City pulls letter that 'shocked' Khan: Default notice to Jaguars prompts testy response from owner, City Hall retreat
Published by Florida Times-Union on May 31, 2012.
Last week, Jacksonville City Hall told the Jaguars it had defaulted on its contract with the city.
Wednesday, team owner Shad Khan sent the city a blistering letter, saying he was "shocked, " "perplexed" and "at a loss."
Hours later, the city withdrew its charge, calling it a "misunderstanding."
The withdrawal - featuring apologetic letters from the mayor and general counsel - came after Khan said the city took an "unprecedented" step by saying the team had defaulted.
In his letter, Khan spent a page detailing the ways he has shown his commitment to the city in the past five months.
"Suffice it to say I am committed to the economic growth of Jacksonville and its NFL franchise, " he wrote.
Then, the claws came out.
"Please advise us of the method of your implementation of the default and termination, if that is your intention, " Khan wrote. "We are on the cusp of training camp to begin the NFL season and will need to act quickly."
That statement was not to be read as a threat, team spokesman Dan Edwards said.
"It's a request to know what our status or standing is, " Edwards said early Wednesday afternoon.
Later in the day, the team knew.
"As a city, we have no interest in doing anything but strengthening our relationship with you and the entire Jaguars organization, " Mayor Alvin Brown wrote to Khan in a letter that was faxed, emailed and hand-delivered.
The charge of default stems from the city's move to ink a new multimillion-dollar contract to oversee operations at EverBank Field and a slew of other city-owned entertainment venues, including Veterans Memorial Arena and the Times-Union Center for Performing Arts.
Two companies - SMG and Global Spectrum - submitted proposals to do the job. Within a week, the Jaguars sent the city a letter saying it had picked SMG, which has been managing city facilities since 1991.
General Counsel Cindy Laquidara responded with the default letter on Friday.
The city did not respond to multiple phone calls to chief of staff Chris Hand, communications director David DeCamp and Laquidara.
The mix-up seems to stem from dueling city documents laying out procedures as to how to pick the new manager.
The contract between the Jaguars and the city says the selection must be done jointly.
An amendment to the request for proposals, however, lays out a process in which the city and the team make their pick and then meet to discuss.
The letter by Laquidara withdrawing the default charge said she was unaware of the amendment, something of which the mayor said he was also unaware.
That amendment was issued May 9 and signed by two employees from the city's procurement department. There is no indication in the document that the General Counsel's Office was involved in preparing it, although Laquidara describes it in her letter on Wednesday as being agreed to by one of her attorneys, Karen Chastain.
The amendment was drawn up after the Jaguars complained that they had been left out of the loop.
In her Wednesday letter, Laquidara said she had been working under the terms agreed to between her and the team's general counsel a month ago, after the team complained about the city moving ahead without it.
In a letter to the team outlining that agreement, Laquidara refers only to the lease, acknowledging that the two parties must come to a mutual agreement on a manager.
"Given the long-standing positive relationship between the Jaguars and the city, and new information which appears to indicate that the two parties simply have a misunderstanding on this matter, I hereby withdraw any notice of default, " she wrote.
In a separate letter, Brown reiterated that he was not trying to do anything that would jeopardize the city's relationship with the team.
"Let me be crystal clear: The city of Jacksonville has absolutely no intention whatsoever of terminating its lease with the Jacksonville Jaguars, " he wrote.