The first stop in our exploration of whether an NFL lockout will cost San Diego taxpayers: figuring out if the Chargers still have to pay rent at Qualcomm Stadium.

There’s a clause buried in the city of San Diego’s contract with the team that allows it to forgo paying the $2.5 million rent if a “force majeure event” prevents the team from using the stadium.

Force majeure literally means a “superior force” and is an unexpected event, like a natural disaster, war or other “act of God,” that would keep a party from living up to its contract.


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The National Football League’s 32 teams collectively have decided that they need a greater share of the league’s revenues and have begun a battle that threatens the upcoming season. It’s not entirely unforeseen, either. This labor strife has been simmering for years.

The Chargers say, though, that the lockout is indeed a force majeure.

That term isn’t defined in the latest amended contract, so the definition falls back to the original lease, team lawyers say.

I don’t have a copy of that original lease on hand. Special counsel Mark Fabiani sent me this via email:

There, Force Majeure Event explicitly includes lockouts:

“Force Majeure Event” shall mean any of the following events which prevents a party from performing its obligations hereunder: any act of God, strike, lockout, etc.

The Mayor’s Office began exploring the issue for me late last week but hasn’t been able to provide any official interpretation yet. I’ll post its response when I have it.

Next Step: The next question then becomes whether that’s a good thing for the city of San Diego.

Intuitively, losing out on $2.5 million in rent would seem bad. But there are years in which the city actually sends the Chargers more money than it receives from the team because the team gets rent credits for things such as property taxes on skyboxes and compensation for lost ticket sales because of the addition of disabled seating.

I’ll explore all of that in my next post.

You can reach me at andrew.donohue@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0526. Follow me on Twitter: @AndrewDonohue.

    This article relates to: Chargers Stadium, News

    Written by Andrew Donohue

    32 comments
    Bob Jones
    Bob Jones subscriber

    Why is that City Hall comments about building a NEW STADIUM in San Diego tend to be convoluted, without clarity and rather odoriferous?

    rwj5125
    rwj5125

    Why is that City Hall comments about building a NEW STADIUM in San Diego tend to be convoluted, without clarity and rather odoriferous?

    Bob Jones
    Bob Jones subscriber

    WATCH your tax-dollars and land holdings very closely tax-payers, but watch your POLITICIANS even closer. Something devious is in the works, me thinks!

    rwj5125
    rwj5125

    WATCH your tax-dollars and land holdings very closely tax-payers, but watch your POLITICIANS even closer. Something devious is in the works, me thinks!

    Richard Rider
    Richard Rider subscribermember

    With such slimy actions, the Chargers help turn the voters against giving the Spanos family any further taxpayer subsidies. We lose $2.5 million in rent, but might well save $500 million or more we would otherwise spend on an unneeded downtown stadium.

    Richard Rider
    Richard Rider

    With such slimy actions, the Chargers help turn the voters against giving the Spanos family any further taxpayer subsidies. We lose $2.5 million in rent, but might well save $500 million or more we would otherwise spend on an unneeded downtown stadium.

    Richard Rider
    Richard Rider subscribermember

    Cannot the league still play football games using replacement players? If they choose not to do so, isn't that choice something less than a "act of God," and therefore they DO owe rent?

    Richard Rider
    Richard Rider

    Cannot the league still play football games using replacement players? If they choose not to do so, isn't that choice something less than a "act of God," and therefore they DO owe rent?

    Bob Jones
    Bob Jones subscriber

    The Mayor and certain council members are in lock-step with Chargers front office and intent on their own political agenda. They are not representing the best interests of the citizens of San Diego in their dealings with the Chargers. They are NOT involved in negotiating with the NFL and the Chargers - it is called FACILITATING.

    rwj5125
    rwj5125

    The Mayor and certain council members are in lock-step with Chargers front office and intent on their own political agenda. They are not representing the best interests of the citizens of San Diego in their dealings with the Chargers. They are NOT involved in negotiating with the NFL and the Chargers - it is called FACILITATING.

    Will Dawson
    Will Dawson subscriber

    San Diego would be better off if we cut our losses and send the Chargers packing. In 45 years the bolts have been in one SB [and were blownout from down one]. With the current ownership the prospects don't look any better. High expectations ahave ben dashed over and over and... The concensus of the registered photos is so waht [see the results opf PropD]. There will be wholesale revolt if Sanders and the CCDC try to STEAL 4 600-700 million $ from the CCDC funds and build a stadium at TAXPAYER expence.. At least if the Chargers are in LA there won't be any question of BLACLK OUTS!

    Sandawg
    Sandawg

    San Diego would be better off if we cut our losses and send the Chargers packing. In 45 years the bolts have been in one SB [and were blownout from down one]. With the current ownership the prospects don't look any better. High expectations ahave ben dashed over and over and... The concensus of the registered photos is so waht [see the results opf PropD]. There will be wholesale revolt if Sanders and the CCDC try to STEAL 4 600-700 million $ from the CCDC funds and build a stadium at TAXPAYER expence.. At least if the Chargers are in LA there won't be any question of BLACLK OUTS!

    Kay McElrath
    Kay McElrath subscribermember

    I love football. But I'm pretty tired of this drill.

    OnceRemoved
    OnceRemoved

    I love football. But I'm pretty tired of this drill.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    Gut check time, Mr. Mayor. Tell these bandits to either play in Qualcomm or take a hike!

    toulon
    toulon

    Gut check time, Mr. Mayor. Tell these bandits to either play in Qualcomm or take a hike!

    Christopher Morris
    Christopher Morris subscribermember

    (On the other hand, if there is something in the contract about the Chargers playing 10 games a year at the stadium, then Force Majeure would excuse that obligation.)

    SeymourDoyle
    SeymourDoyle

    (On the other hand, if there is something in the contract about the Chargers playing 10 games a year at the stadium, then Force Majeure would excuse that obligation.)

    Bob Jones
    Bob Jones subscriber

    If ever you visit a politician's office take plenty of those antiseptic wipes with you. There tends to be some type of germ or parasite in every such office. Caution!

    rwj5125
    rwj5125

    If ever you visit a politician's office take plenty of those antiseptic wipes with you. There tends to be some type of germ or parasite in every such office. Caution!

    Bob Jones
    Bob Jones subscriber

    Perhaps, citizens of San Diego, there is more chicanery afoot that we village dwellers know about or are informed about. Mayor GOLDING was caught handily being a poster child for the Chargers when she was intent on running for the State Senate. Is this the same scenario? How much will it cost the citizens of San Diego this time around?

    rwj5125
    rwj5125

    Perhaps, citizens of San Diego, there is more chicanery afoot that we village dwellers know about or are informed about. Mayor GOLDING was caught handily being a poster child for the Chargers when she was intent on running for the State Senate. Is this the same scenario? How much will it cost the citizens of San Diego this time around?

    joseph olivas
    joseph olivas subscriber

    San Diego has a huge deficit and surely needs the money we don't have to bring our sagging infra-structure up to date. Hope our elected officials don't betray us.

    josepho858
    josepho858

    San Diego has a huge deficit and surely needs the money we don't have to bring our sagging infra-structure up to date. Hope our elected officials don't betray us.

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    he ability of the Parties to proceed or the costs of proceeding (but not including any City laws or ordinances); any initiative or referendum; and failure to obtain any necessary federal, state or county governmental approval."

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage

    he ability of the Parties to proceed or the costs of proceeding (but not including any City laws or ordinances); any initiative or referendum; and failure to obtain any necessary federal, state or county governmental approval."

    Josh Samuels
    Josh Samuels subscriber

    Why are we slaves to the Spanos' private business? Oh sure, we get some amount of tax revenue, but is it really enough to justify kowtowing to a sports team's every whim? People act as if losing a football team would be some catastrophic disaster.

    Incredulous
    Incredulous

    Why are we slaves to the Spanos' private business? Oh sure, we get some amount of tax revenue, but is it really enough to justify kowtowing to a sports team's every whim? People act as if losing a football team would be some catastrophic disaster.

    Mary VanDerPool
    Mary VanDerPool subscriber

    Would the affected cities be able recoup losses with a legal suit against the NFL owners?? Might put a fire under them to reopen the gates, so to speak, and make a deal.

    BoltGirlDC
    BoltGirlDC

    Would the affected cities be able recoup losses with a legal suit against the NFL owners?? Might put a fire under them to reopen the gates, so to speak, and make a deal.

    Michael Bishop
    Michael Bishop subscriber

    I know the "bread and circus" contingent dreads the very thought of the Chargers moving to LA, but the freeway is close and LA can use its own money to pander to the whims of Spanos and the NFL.

    SkippingDog
    SkippingDog

    I know the "bread and circus" contingent dreads the very thought of the Chargers moving to LA, but the freeway is close and LA can use its own money to pander to the whims of Spanos and the NFL.