Appellate Court Upholds SoccerCity’s Place on November Ballot

Proposed SoccerCity development San Diego

The SoccerCity proposal for San Diego is proceeding to the November election, as the state’s appellate court denied a city attorney’s appeal to remove it from the ballot. 

Pitched by FS Investors, SoccerCity is a proposal to redevelop the SDCCU Stadium site in Mission Valley and factors into San Diego’s MLS expansion bid. It calls for a 23,500-seat stadium that would be constructed for an MLS club, along with surrounding development. FS Investors would enter into a 99-year lease with the city for 233 acres of property. It is one of two proposals for the site that has been slated for the November ballot, joining the competing SDSU West–which proposes a new San Diego State University football stadium and surrounding amenities for the same site.

San Diego city attorney Mara Elliott had previously asked the courts to review both SDSU West and SoccerCity over concerns about their legality. In its argument against the two measures, the city had claimed that if either is approved by voters it would illegally interfere with administrative matters. The two cases were considered separately last month, and both were ultimately rejected by San Diego Superior Court judges, prompting Elliott to file appeals for both measures.

In a ruling issued Monday, California’s appellate court denied the emergency petitions from Elliott, with the ruling justices noting that the city had not adequately argued for taking either proposal off the voter ballot. That allows SoccerCity to proceed toward the November ballot, and its backers are already making the case that it is the best option for voters. More from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“We decline to eliminate the right of the public to express its views on the competing initiatives,” Justices Patricia Benke, Richard Huffman and Joan Irion said in their denial of the city attorney’s emergency petitions filed last week.

The court denied the writs of mandate on identical grounds, concluding that the city’s “assertion that it will have to spend taxpayer money” to place the initiatives on the ballot “is not substantial enough to prevent (them) from going before the electorate.”

The ruling clears the way for the measures to go before voters in November. SoccerCity and SDSU West both seek to redevelop the city’s Mission Valley stadium site with housing, commercial projects and a public park along the San Diego River….

Nick Stone, project manager for the SoccerCity proposal, said, “With this challenge to their constitutional rights now behind them, San Diegans now have the opportunity to vote for SoccerCity. As the only plan for sports without subsidies, SoccerCity will transform the crumbling Mission Valley stadium site … all at no cost to taxpayers.”

SoccerCity first surfaced in 2017, serving as one of the major components of San Diego’s MLS expansion bid. FS Investors previously called for a November 2017 referendum for the proposal, but city officials pushed a referendum on the project to 2018. San Diego did not make the slate of four expansion finalists considered by MLS late last year (Nashville, and later Cincinnati were selected from that group), but its bid remains a candidate for the next round of expansion.  With SoccerCity and SDSU West now poised to proceed to the November ballot, the one with the greatest share of the majority in the election results will move forward.

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