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Backers Of Soccer City Sue To Pull SDSU West Initiative From November Ballot

A rendering of the SDSU West plan to redevelop SDCCU Stadium is shown in this...

Credit: San Diego State University

Above: A rendering of the SDSU West plan to redevelop SDCCU Stadium is shown in this undated image.

Backers Of Soccer City Sue To Pull SDSU West Initiative From November Ballot

GUEST:

Andrew Keatts, reporter, Voice of San Diego

Transcript

The backers of Soccer City filed suit Wednesday to remove the SDSU West initiative from the November ballot.

The challenge was filed in the San Diego Superior court. FS Investors, the group behind Soccer City, argue that Friends of SDSU, a coalition of SDSU alumni, business and community leaders, misused the school’s name on their initiative and falsely gave petition signers the impression that the university endorsed the proposal. They say that violates the state’s education, government and election codes.

In March, the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to put the SDSU West initiative on the November ballot where it will vie for voter attention with a competing proposal. The move came after Friends of SDSU submitted 106,134 voter signatures to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters in January. To appear on the ballot, the group needed 71,646 verified signatures.

RELATED: Council OK’s SDSU West Ballot Measure To Redevelop Mission Valley Stadium Site

SDSU West officials are calling the suit a desperate attempt to eliminate voter choice. Both proposals call for construction of housing, a river park, commercial space and a sports stadium.

Soccer City hopes to leverage the development to lure a Major League Soccer team to San Diego. Meanwhile, SDSU wants to develop the site in order to extend the campus.

In a statement, Friends of SDSU responded to the lawsuit:

This lawsuit is a desperate attempt by FS Investors to eliminate voter choice about the use of the stadium property and distract them from the details of their flawed SoccerCity initiative. FS Investors are concerned because they know most voters support the SDSU West initiative, so they are trying to deny voters that choice. It is entirely appropriate for our initiative and campaign committee to utilize the SDSU name, given its purpose is to help San Diego State University grow its academic, research and economic benefits for San Diego. It should also be noted that SoccerCity has used SDSU’s name in their pitch to voters repeatedly over the past year. If approved, SoccerCity would block San Diego State University’s growth potential; yet FS Investors has repeatedly used SDSU’s name and likeness to promote their campaign.

RELATED: San Diego City Council Votes To Put SoccerCity On 2018 Ballot

Michael Attanasio, the attorney representing the Soccer City backers, issued the following statement regarding the suit:

The developers who crafted the so-called "SDSU West" plan have misappropriated the San Diego State name and brand to sell their own private development plan, which is a violation of the California Education Code. Public university names are the property of the state and its citizens, and this law was specifically intended to prevent their exploitation by private business interests. These developers have plenty of time to recirculate their petitions and gather signatures using a campaign name that is lawful and doesn't deceive San Diego voters.

KPBS is a service of San Diego State University.

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