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SoccerCity Backers Sue to Boot SDSU Stadium Plan From Ballot

SDSU Aztec Stadium rendering

A lawsuit has been filed to remove a plan for a new San Diego State University (SDSU) stadium from the November ballot, with the challenge from backers of the competing SoccerCity

A group known as Friends of SDSU carried out a citizens’ initiative for SDSU West, a proposal that calls for a new football stadium along with surrounding development. This development would take place at the current site of SDCCU Stadium in Mission Valley, the same location eyed by FS Investors for its SoccerCity project.

Friends of SDSU collected enough signatures to have its proposal placed on the November ballot, where it will be considered by city voters alongside the SoccerCity project. Proponents of the SoccerCity plan, however, contend that the Friends of SDSU proposal should not be on the ballot, and have filed a lawsuit to have it removed. The lawsuit alleges that Friends of SDSU–which consists of alumni, business leaders, and other parties–has misused the university’s name, and did so to deceive voters into supporting the proposal’s place on the ballot. More from The San Diego Union Tribune:

“The law is very clear that a private initiative, private development group like Friends of SDSU cannot misappropriate a name that belongs to the people of the state of California by law, and use it to advance a ballot proposal that is really a private development,” said Michael Attanasio, the attorney who filed the suit on the behalf of Carrie Taylor and David Dunbar.

Attanasio said Taylor and Dunbar are two registered voters in San Diego and supporters of the SoccerCity initiative “who care deeply that there be a fair playing field for the resolution” of the two competing proposals on the November ballot.

Taylor is employed as an executive assistant with FS Investors, and Dunbar, an attorney, is related to Jon Dunbar, a partner with FS, Attanasio said.

The suit also names as defendants the San Diego City Clerk, the Registrar of Voters and the City Council but Attanasio said they were mentioned because “that’s required by law when you’re going to challenge an initiative that’s headed for the ballot” but said his clients are not looking for any monetary damages from the city.

Friends of SDSU issued a statement, per the Union-Tribune:

Friends of SDSU, a coalition of university alumni, community and business leaders, released a statement late Wednesday calling the lawsuit a “desperate attempt” by FS Investors, backers of the SoccerCity initiative, to “eliminate voter choice” about the use of the stadium site.

“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,” the statement said.

There are considerable variances between the two proposals, and that includes the differences in their stadium concepts. FS Investors has pitched a new stadium for an MLS expansion franchise, and at one point proposed sharing the venue with SDSU football until discussions with the university broke down last May. The stadium in the competing proposal from Friends of SDSU would seat 35,000 and primarily host the university’s football program, but would also be designed to accommodate professional soccer matches and could be expanded to become the home of an NFL team.

With both plans on the ballot, the one with the greatest share of the majority will move forward. If both initiatives fail to reach a majority, discussions over the future of the SDCCU Stadium site will be turned over to the city. SDCCU Stadium, known until last year as Qualcomm Stadium, first opened in 1967 and was home to the NFL’s Chargers until the team relocated to Los Angeles last year. It is currently hosting SDSU football, but its aging condition has prompted plenty of discussion about its future.

Rendering courtesy Populous and San Diego State University. 

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August Publications