MLS: We Won’t Wait for San Diego MLS Referendum

Proposed SoccerCity development San Diego

We’ve always assumed that a fall San Diego MLS referendum was inevitable, but bad on us, as several City Council members are looking to push it to Fall 2018. That would be a mistake, according to MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott, who says expansion decisions won’t be put off that long.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who has been working with investment group FS Investors on a plan to redevelop the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site into something that includes a new stadium, has proposed $5 million for a 2017 fall special election. However, a group of five City Council members are looking at relocating that money toward other city needs. If there is no San Diego MLS referendum — which is popular, according to recent polling — then the city runs the risk of losing out on an expansion franchise. The current plan is to award at least two MLS expansion franchises before the end of the year, and two more next year. Twelve cities have submitted bids for these four teams.

According to Abbott, a San Diego MLS referendum is needed this fall, as the league won’t be waiting until the 2018 to complete the expansion process. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“There is a very significant risk that San Diego would lose the opportunity if the vote is postponed to 2018,” Abbott said. “… We haven’t set the timetable for (the final two), but there is a significant chance it is before any public vote would take place and, as a result, a significant risk San Diego would lose the opportunity.”…

“(The timeline) is driven by the needs of the league to make its decisions,” Abbott said. “We’re thinking about what is happening in all these other markets. … There will be more than two ready to go at the end of this year. Because there are other markets that are also under consideration, we will likely (choose the final two) earlier in ’18.”

As we’ve noted in the past, MLS officials have gone out of their way to schedule things around a potential San Diego MLS referendum. A decision on shifting the $5 million could come as soon as Monday.

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