Interior of proposed San Diego stadium looking north. Courtesy Populous
Interior of proposed San Diego stadium looking north. Courtesy Populous

A planned meeting Thursday between San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair was canceled after McNair criticized San Diego for “all kinds of political problems.”

McNair sits on a committee of National Football League team owners who are looking at relocating a franchise to Los Angeles.

Faulconer, who has met individually with other committee members, was planning to travel to travel to Houston to discuss San Diego’s plan to build a stadium in Mission Valley in an effort to keep the Chargers from heading north.

The cancellation came hours after the Houston Chronicle published comments by McNair that follow the NFL’s recent line that time is running out for cities to make an offer that will be acceptable to owners, if they want to keep their teams.

“They’re saying they’re going to do something now. But in order to do it, they’d have to have a referendum and the referendum isn’t until next June,” McNair told the newspaper about San Diego officials. “Well, we can’t have these teams in limbo. You need to have certainty and you don’t know if the referendum would pass or fail. We can’t take what they’re saying very seriously.”

His remarks were prefaced with comments that could stir up controversy in San Diego.

“In San Diego, they’ve been trying for about 15 years,” McNair said. “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, then-City Councilmen Ralph Inzunza, Charles Lewis III and Michael Zucchet were indicted on wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges for allegedly taking money from associates of a strip club owner to help repeal the city’s “no touch” nude dancing ordinance. There were eight council members at the time.

Lewis died the next year. Inzunza and Zucchet were found guilty in 2005 and resigned, but Zucchet’s convictions were later overturned.

“It appears Mr. McNair has been provided grossly inaccurate and outdated information about San Diego,” said mayoral spokesman Craig Gustafson.

“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,” Gustafson said. “Mr. McNair canceled 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 have long wanted a new stadium to replacing aging Qualcomm, and have acquired land in Carson, in Los Angeles County, to build their own facility if they can’t reach a deal to stay in San Diego. The Raiders, in the same situation in Oakland, could join the Chargers in Carson.

The owner of the St. Louis Rams is eyeing a move to land he controls in Inglewood, also in Los Angeles County. The owners could begin making decisions on which team, or teams, will move at a meeting scheduled for Jan. 12-13 in Houston.

McNair’s comments came four days before the Chargers host the Miami Dolphins in what could be their final home game in San Diego.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.