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Chargers' future past 2012 up in air

The Chargers will remain in San Diego for the 2012 season, but their fate beyond this year is still undetermined.

The Chargers and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders issued a joint statement Monday announcing that the team would not trigger the early termination clause in their Qualcomm Stadium lease this year as it continues to work with Sanders to build a largely publicly financed stadium in downtown San Diego.

"The City of San Diego and the Chargers continue to work closely together to explore publicly acceptable ways to build a new Super Bowl-quality stadium on the bus maintenance yard site in the East Village of downtown San Diego," the statement read. "Both the Mayor's Office and the Chargers look forward to continuing their joint efforts to build a multi-use stadium that will benefit the entire region."

The Chargers can announce their intention to leave San Diego between Feb. 1 and May 1 of each year through 2020 if they pay an early termination fee tied to the bonds used to expand Qualcomm in 1997. The bonds would have been worth about $24 million this year.

The announcement has been expected since September, when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to expedite legal challenges to Farmers Field, Anschutz Entertainment Group's $1.2 billion-proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles.

AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke said he expects to have a finalized environmental impact report for Farmers Field by June 1. If there is even a single legal challenge, despite the expedited process, it will likely not be decided upon until November.

While Los Angeles goes through the final motions, the Chargers will work with the city to build a multi-use stadium that would double as a convention center expansion at the current site of the bus maintenance yard, and surrounding properties, in the East Village of downtown San Diego. The problem with the Chargers' proposal is that the city already is two years into a separate expansion for the San Diego Convention Center. Convention center officials, as well as many city officials, want no part of the Chargers' multi-use stadium, which would not be connected to the current convention center and would be largely unusable for conventions during the NFL season.

Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani has said the proposed site and multi-use stadium is the last best chance to keep the team in San Diego after numerous alternate sites and proposals have failed in the past decade. He hopes to have a measure on the ballot in the November elections, but if it doesn't make the ballot or fails to pass, the Chargers could look to move elsewhere at that point.

If the Chargers choose to relocate, an announcement would have to take place before Feb. 15, according to NFL relocation rules.

Arash Markazi writes for ESPNLosAngeles.com.