SAN DIEGO (AP) — Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, a member of the NFL's influential Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities, canceled a meeting with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer after making controversial comments about a City Hall scandal several years ago.
The meeting, scheduled for Thursday, was to be part of Faulconer's attempt to keep the San Diego Chargers from leaving for an industrial suburb of Los Angeles.
The mayor's office took offense with comments McNair made to the Houston Chronicle.
"In San Diego, they've been trying for about 15 years," McNair told the Chronicle. "They've had all kinds of political problems there. At one time, half the council went to jail or something. It's been pretty bad. It's hard to negotiate when you've got to go to the jail to negotiate. So they haven't accomplished anything."
In 2003, city councilmen Ralph Inzunza, Charles Lewis III and Michael Zucchet were indicted on charges they took money from a strip club owner to help repeal the city's "no touch" nude dancing ordinance. Lewis died the next year. Inzunza and Zucchet were convicted in 2005 and resigned. Zucchet's convictions were later overturned. Inzunza was the only defendant to serve time.
"It appears Mr. McNair has been provided grossly inaccurate and outdated information about San Diego," Matt Awbrey, a spokesman for Faulconer, said in a statement. "The city has completely new leadership in the mayor's office, city attorney's office and city council, and has worked for nearly a decade to get our city back on track. Mr. McNair cancelled a meeting with the mayor scheduled for Thursday, so the mayor's office has directly informed NFL management that his comments are not factually accurate."
The Chargers push for a new stadium began in 2002, just five years after the city expanded Qualcomm Stadium to benefit the Chargers.
There have been numerous upheavals and scandals in City Hall since then, but none that have involved the Chargers going to the jailhouse to negotiate for a new stadium.
Mark Fabiani, who represents Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos, didn't return an email seeking comment about McNair's characterization of San Diego and if the Chargers convinced him to cancel the meeting with Faulconer. Fabiani has sparred with city leaders since January, when Faulconer appointed an advisory group to recommend site and financing plans for a new stadium.
After the Chargers walked away from negotiations in June, Faulconer took his case directly to the NFL. He has met with Commissioner Roger Goodell as well as the other five members of the LA committee besides McNair.
City officials believe McNair and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson support Spanos' attempt to build a stadium in Carson in partnership with AFC West rival Oakland on a stadium in Inglewood.
Spanos, who has had the right to break his lease in San Diego since 2008, and Davis announced their plans for a stadium in Carson only after St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced his intention to build a stadium in Inglewood.
NFL owners have scheduled a special meeting for Jan. 12-13 in Houston to deal with a possible relocation of teams to Los Angeles.