San Diego Business Journal

The city of San Diego was thrown for a $1.5 million loss in a lease dispute with the San Diego Chargers over the loss of seating at Qualcomm Stadium.

A state arbitrator ruled Dec. 8 the city owes the Chargers the funds after the city removed some seats and made other modifications to the stadium. The city was responding to an Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit.

The Chargers had sought $2.5 million from the city on the loss of ticket sales for the lost seats, but arbitrator Gerald Lewis reduced the award.

In the binding arbitration case that cannot be appealed, Lewis ruled in the future the city would be responsible for crediting the Chargers only when attendance at football games exceeds 90 percent.

City Attorney Michael Aguirre estimated future payments caused by the ruling would be $500,000 annually.

The dispute had its genesis in 1997 when the city expanded and made other improvements to Qualcomm Stadium, adding about 10,000 seats. However, a disabled activist filed suit against the city saying the changes weren't compliant with ADA.

In the 2000 settlement with Chargers fan Beverly Walker, the city agreed to bring the stadium up to code, and agreed to indemnify the Chargers for any loss of revenue.

Aguirre blamed former Mayor Susan Golding for what he called another "give-away" on the agreement.

Responding to an Aguirre news conference on the issue, Mark Fabiani, special counsel to the Chargers, said Aguirre broke a confidentiality agreement on the settlement, and "will say and do anything to drive the Chargers out of San Diego."

"Today's press conference is just another in an endless series of self-serving camera grabs and is the latest proof that Aguirre will stop at nothing until the Chargers are forced to leave town," Fabiani said the day of the ruling.

, Mike Allen