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Council’s Vote Against 2017 Special Election Dims San Diego’s Chance For Soccer Franchise

Interior of FS Investors' proposed 22,000-seat professional soccer stadium.

The San Diego City Council may have effectively ended San Diego’s chance to secure a Major League Soccer franchise and stopped the proposed SoccerCity San Diego development with a unanimous vote Monday rejecting the developer’s request for a special election on Nov. 7. The council moved a public vote on the project to the November 2018 general election, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Twelve cities, including San Diego, are vying for two MLS franchises that will be awarded at the end of this year. 

FS Investors Project Manager Nick Stone has said his firm would not move forward on the $4B SoccerCity development without an MLS franchise, but said he will continue to push for a special election up until the 90-day deadline for calling an election.

“Nobody’s choice will matter in 2018, because it will be too late. Moving this vote to 2018 gives people a choice between no soccer and no soccer,” Stone said in a video interview with the paper. “Major League Soccer has made it very, very clear what their time frame is. The group who wants this proposal moved to 2018 are the developers right around the corner from us, because they want this measure dead.” 

The council had voted 8-1 earlier this month to remove $5M from San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s 2018 city budget that was earmarked for a special election. The following week the council voted 5-4 to delay a public vote until November 2018 on the mayor’s initiative to increase the hotel tax to 15.5%. The 3% increase would pay for expansion of the San Diego Convention Center and boost funding for homeless programs and street repair.

The SoccerCity proposal calls for development of 4,800 residential units, 3.1M SF of office and retail, 350 hotel rooms, 55 acres of parkland and a 22,000-seat professional soccer stadium. The development would generate an estimated $8.2M in tax revenue annually for city and county coffers at build-out, growing to $43.5M over 45 years due to inflation and ownership turnover, as well as 25,750 permanent jobs.