Stadium Talks to Begin

After a 61/2-hour public hearing, the City Council voted 7-2 to begin two phases of negotiations, one on whether the Chargers properly activated their trigger clause on March 4th and the other on a new stadium. The trigger clause allows the team to renegotiate its Qualcomm lease and shop itself to other cities.

Council members Michael Zucchet and Donna Frye said they voted against the two-track strategy because they wanted the Chargers to prove they could trigger before the city talked to them about building a new stadium.

Frye has been seen on both sides of the fence. She has supported a new stadium in one sentence and then retracted that feeling mere minutes later.

Residents and City Council members expressed both frustration with the process and desire to help keep the San Diego Chargers in town.

Mayor Dick Murphy said the city should vigorously pursue its rights under the existing contract but agreed with residents, council members and a citizens task force that the current lease is just "a loser."

"This is not a vote to build a new stadium. It's a vote to sit down and negotiate with the Chargers," Murphy said.

Chargers fans urged the city to negotiate to keep the Chargers from leaving town and costing many of them jobs and a way of life.

Meanwhile, talk about building a stadium in Los Angeles and bringing a National Football League team to play in it increased pressure on Murphy to deal with the Chargers' request to begin negotiations. The team contends it needs a new stadium to be competitive with other NFL teams.

Chargers consultant Mark Fabiani said, "The Chargers are eager to sit down with the city and begin work on eliminating the current lease and the ticket guarantee and then on exploring how the team can pay for 100 percent of the cost of a new stadium."

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