Wildfires force Chargers to move Monday game to Arizona

Updated: October 27, 2003, 12:26 AM ET

SAN DIEGO -- Wildfires in the San Diego area have forced the Chargers to move Monday night's game against the Miami Dolphins to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

Originally scheduled to be played at Qualcomm Stadium, the game now will be played at the home of the Arizona Cardinals.

"We fully support NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's decision to move the game to Arizona," Cardinals vice president Michael Bidwill said. "We hope to raise money for the people in San Diego who are suffering this terrible tragedy. Arizonans have close ties to the people of San Diego. We encourage our fans to come out and support our neighbors."

Miami had traveled to San Diego on Sunday afternoon.

Wildfires in Southern California have burned at least 650 homes and left 14 people dead. The fires stretch for miles and have been fanned by fierce winds.

The parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium has been turned into a major evacuation center as residents in surrounding neighborhoods were ordered out of their homes by authorities.

The National Football League issued the following statement:

"The residents of greater San Diego are suffering from terrible fires, and public health and safety are the urgent priorities. The City of San Diego has advised us that under these circumstances, Monday night's game between the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins cannot be played at Qualcomm Stadium.

"NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has directed that Monday night's game be played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, at 9:00 p.m. EST. This decision will allow San Diego public safety agencies to maintain their full focus on protecting the lives and property of San Diego residents."

San Diego mayor Dick Murphy had urged the NFL to either postpone or move the game.

The Chargers issued the following statement on Sunday night:

"The hearts and prayers of the San Diego Chargers, the Miami Dolphins and the entire National Football League go out to the residents of greater San Diego who are suffering from these terrible fires.

"San Diego officials have determined, under the circumstances, that Qualcomm Stadium will not be available ... We concur. Public safety must now be our only priority."

Monday's game was supposed to mark the return of Junior Seau to San Diego.

Perhaps the greatest defensive player in the Chargers' history, Seau was selected to 12 Pro Bowls in 13 seasons as an outside linebacker in San Diego.

But in March, the Chargers made the surprising decision by turning the page on the Seau era when they allowed him to speak to other teams. In April, the Dolphins acquired Seau for a conditional pick in the 2004 draft.

Seau left quite a legacy with the Chargers and is tied for first on San Diego's all-time list with 200 games, including 199 starts. He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade team for the 1990s and also was named Chargers MVP each season from 1997-2001.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index