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Thursday, April 12, 2001
September weekend series now a headache for Padres

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers might push their baseball neighbors, the Padres, right off the diamond on the second weekend in September.

The NFL released its 2001 schedule on Thursday and the Chargers are set to open at home against the Washington Redskins at 1:15 p.m. on Sept. 9. It'll be a grudge match between new Chargers offensive coordinator Norv Turner and the man who fired him as Redskins coach last year, Washington owner Daniel Snyder.

One big conflict, though -- the Padres are scheduled to play the Arizona Diamondbacks at home at 2 that afternoon.

The Chargers have scheduling priority over the Padres -- the only NFL team with priority in a shared ballpark -- and San Diego State's football team, which also uses Qualcomm Stadium.

"The NFL sets the schedule," Chargers spokesman Bill Johnston said. "I just know that we'll be playing on Sept. 9 right here."

If the NFL doesn't budge, the Padres would have to play a doubleheader sometime in the four-game series, which is set from Friday-Monday. The Padres are off on Thursday, Sept. 6, but the Diamondbacks will be playing in San Francisco that day.

"We hope the NFL will work something out, but it doesn't look too good," said Bill Wilson, who manages the city-owned stadium. "Doubleheaders are bad on everybody," he added, citing reduced ticket, parking and concession revenues.

Wilson also said the Diamondbacks-Padres' day game on Saturday, Sept. 8, could be in jeopardy. That's because it takes 30 hours to reconfigure the stadium from baseball to the seating arrangement the Chargers are guaranteed. The Saturday game -- a Fox television game -- could be played if the Chargers agree to a different configuration, Wilson said.

Padres president Larry Lucchino said the team will sit down with the city and the Chargers to see if there's an amicable solution.

"This presents some serious logistical and financial issues for us," Lucchino said. "It's one of these unfortunate messes that's created by the cohabitation of a facility by a football team and a baseball team. That's why there's only three or four of these left in America."

Work on a new downtown baseball park has been stalled since October by legal problems. It was originally supposed to be finished by opening day 2002. Mayor Dick Murphy has said he hopes it can be finished by 2003.