City Council Delays "Trigger Period"

The San Diego Chargers may exercise its right to explore moving to another city, despite a City Council decision Monday night to agree to delay the start of the "trigger period" that would allow the Chargers to shop for a new home.

The council supported postponing that period to begin March 1, but put off a vote on a related "saving agreement." If approved, the saving agreement would allow the team to trigger retroactively to Jan. 29 in the event of a successful lawsuit or other challenge to the trigger delay.

The 60 day trigger period originally opened Dec. 1, during which the team can exercise its rights under a 1995 contract to renegotiate with the city or move to another town.

The council decided to ask its Citizens Task Force on Chargers Issues to make a recommendation on the saving clause. The council vote on that issue would come Jan. 28, the day before the current trigger window closes.

Voting against moving the trigger period were council members Donna Frye and Michael Zucchet. The vote was unanimous to postpone the vote on the saving clause to Jan. 28. Opponents said the saving clause would waive the city's rights to verify that the trigger requirements were actually met. The Chargers need to demonstrate that salaries have reached a certain level before the team can exercise its trigger rights.

"It's very difficult," Fabiani said Monday night. "We've got to take some time to evaluate what happened. If the council is not inclined to adopt the savings agreement, we really don't have a choice but to trigger."

Fabiani said waiting until the last day was risky, and he didn't know if "we're really prepared to wait until the very end to make the decision."

City Attorney Casey Gwinn and Assistant City Attorney Les Girard said the city wouldn't be waiving any of its rights. Gwinn called the saving clause "only a reasonable request." The team sought the saving clause because of past stadium-related lawsuits, contending that if a new lawsuit were successful, the new trigger window could also close while litigation was decided.

Attorney Mike Aguirre has promised to file a lawsuit Jan. 30, the day after the original 60-day period, if the trigger period was extended.

Mayor Dick Murphy, who initially sought the delay to give the Chargers task force time to complete its work, said the trigger extension "is more to the city's benefit" than the Chargers'.

The task force, which answers to the City Council, is charged with finding a fiscally responsible and publicly acceptable way to keep the team in San Diego.

The team wants a new stadium, and some city officials fear the Chargers will use the trigger clause to try to move to the Los Angeles area if it doesn't get what it wants in San Diego.

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