SoccerCity Backers Will Still Lobby for Special Election

Proposed SoccerCity development San Diego

Despite another recent setback, the developers behind SoccerCity will once again make the case for a special election to San Diego officials, with a final vote on the proposal set for June 19 after the City Council fails to cut $5 million from the budget set aside by Mayor Kevin Faulconer for the referendum.

A development pitched for the site of Qualcomm Stadium that includes a new facility for an MLS expansion franchise, SoccerCity was proposed to be the subject of a voter referendum as part of a special election on November 7. In a recent vote, however, the San Diego City Council opted to vote against $5 million in funding for the election. While San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer had sought to restore that funding (and indeed succeeded), the city council once again rejected the proposed election in a vote on Monday. That sets up a June 19 City Council hearing to once again determine the fate of the SoccerCity Project.

For SoccerCity, the delay in the election is a timing issue. While the November election would likely spell out the project’s fate before MLS decides its first two expansion choices from a field of 12 contenders, delaying the vote could complicate San Diego’s standing in the process.

Though some city officials would like to explore alternatives, SoccerCity project manager Nick Stone says that the developers plan to make another push at Monday’s meeting. More from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“I think the really good news here is, hopefully, this is something they look at holistically and say, ‘If I consider the alternative, that work has not been done — what if I turn this down today?’” Stone said.

He said he and other backers will continue to work behind the scenes to win support, not only from the council but also organized labor that has pressed for a project labor agreement, which addresses wages and other conditions.

The council voted 5-4 Monday against holding a special Nov. 7 for any ballot measure. Also up for council consideration that day was Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s proposed hotel-tax increase to expand the downtown convention center and fund homeless programs and road repairs. A tax increase would take a two-thirds approval by city voters.

A week earlier the same council majority voted against funding for a special election.

The SoccerCity plan, presented in the form of a citizens’ initiative, will come before the council at its 2 p.m. Monday meeting. Council members can either approve it or let city voters decide by a simple majority. The election date will have to be decided by early next month — a special election on Nov. 7 or some other date; the June 5, 2018 primary when no citywide election is planned; or the Nov. 6, 2018 general election.

The future of the Qualcomm Stadium site has been the subject of debate for much of this year, as the NFL’s San Diego Chargers announced their relocation to Los Angeles in January. San Diego State University, which recently ended discussions to share the proposed SoccerCity stadium, is expected to continue using Qualcomm Stadium for its football program through at least the 2018 season.

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