SoccerCity Developers Ask MLS To Delay Expansion Announcement
The group behind the stalled SoccerCity remake of the Qualcomm Stadium property in Mission Valley announced Monday that they will try to get Major League Soccer to delay announcement of its expansion franchises until after San Diegans can vote on the project in November 2018.
The developers, led by FS Investors of La Jolla, have applied for an MLS expansion franchise but said they wouldn't move forward with their project if they aren't picked for a team. League officials have said they want to expand by four teams before the end of this year.
An MLS spokesman issued a statement that said the league plans to announce two expansion cities, for the 25th and 26th franchises, by the end of this year.
"MLS has not yet determined the timetable for the selection of clubs 27 and 28, but also intends to set the timetable by the end of 2017," the statement said.
While an initiative in support of SoccerCity qualified for the ballot, the City Council opted to place the question on the next regularly scheduled general election ballot. By doing so, the council members rejected a plan backed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to conduct a special election this fall.
"There really is no path that we can see to a special election that would allow us to have a vote in advance of November of 2018," Nick Stone of FS Investors told reporters.
"No city in the United States is better suited for an MLS franchise than San Diego, and we are 100 percent confident this community would make every soccer game and event exciting and special," Stone said. "We're undertaking this campaign on behalf of all the San Diegans who've given their time over the past few months to show their support."
Former soccer star Landon Donovan noted that the July 9 soccer doubleheader that featured the Mexican national soccer team was the most well- attended so far in the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, with more than 53,000 fans in the stands.
"It's in the best interest of everyone in the entire soccer ecosystem for MLS to choose from among the strongest markets, and we're going to work with our fans to continue to prove that San Diego is one of them," Donovan said.
Now that the Chargers have moved to Los Angeles, the city hopes to shutter Qualcomm Stadium after the 2018 college football season. SoccerCity would have replaced it with a smaller playing facility for soccer and college football, along with parkland, housing, and commercial and office space.
FS was unable to reach agreement with San Diego State University on sharing the stadium and other facilities on the property. SDSU officials have for years looked at the site for campus expansion.
The Wait for SD campaign will include frequent fan events to highlight the enthusiasm for soccer in the San Diego market, a social media push to exhibit the engagement of local fans and contact with the league to socialize the value of waiting for San Diego, the developers said.