Public records obtained by the San Antonio Express-News in the wake of a contentious March vote to oust Chick-fil-A from a proposed airport concession reveal that city leaders previously considered a naming-rights contract with that company for the Alamodome.
Opposition to the fast-food operator getting the airport contract stemmed from the company’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
The Alamodome would have been dubbed as “Chick-fil-A’s Texas Headquarters” and the franchise’s cow mascots would have stood on a corner of the stadium, imploring drivers on Interstate 37 to “eat more chikin,” the proposals obtained by the newspaper show.
“With this partnership, Chick-fil-A will be making a powerful statement to some of its strongest competitors that the brand will be front and center in San Antonio,” the proposal reads.
But that concept never came to fruition and doesn’t look feasible for the future either after, the city council voted to exclude Chick-fil-A from operating at San Antonio International Airport. The Express-News noted that Dan Cathy, the company’s CEO, has spoken out against gay marriage and Chick-fil-A’s charitable foundation donates money to organizations that the LGBTQ community views as discriminatory.
That vote sparked more than 1,000 calls and emails to the council, most from Christian organizations and their members who felt the vote discriminated against them. State lawmakers earlier this year passed a measure dubbed the “Save Chick-fil-A” bill, which prevents state and local government agencies from punishing people or businesses for their affiliations with or donations to religious organizations.
In addition, the Texas Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation into whether San Antonio had violated Chick-fil-A’s religious liberty.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg said his opposition to the company wasn’t related to its stance on gay rights; instead, he wanted companies at the airport to operate seven days a week and preferred a local company to anchor the airport concessions (Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A’s stores are closed on Sundays.)
The records obtained by the Express-News show that Nirenberg downplayed the decision to remove Chick-fil-A from concession consideration, writing to his then-chief of staff Trey Jacobson in a March 29 text message, “This is a non issue … I repeat this is a NON ISSUE.”