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Judge Rejects Lawsuit to Block SDSU West From Ballot

SDSU Aztec Stadium rendering

In a ruling on Friday, a judge rejected a lawsuit that was filed to prevent the SDSU West proposal from having a place on San Diego’s November ballot. 

SDSU West is a proposal that calls for a new San Diego State University football stadium and surrounding development at the site of SDCCU Stadium in Mission Valley. A group known as Friends of SDSU has been pitching the proposal, and conducted a citizens’ initiative that gathered enough signatures for the plan to earn a place on the November ballot. Also slated for the November ballot is the competing SoccerCity proposal, which calls for development anchored by an MLS stadium at the same site.

Supporters of SoccerCity filed a lawsuit in April to get SDSU West booted from the November ballot. The lawsuit contended that Friends of SDSU–which consists of alumni, business leaders, and other parties–misused the university’s name, and did so to deceive voters into supporting the proposal’s place on the ballot. Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil rejected the lawsuit Friday, claiming in his ruling that Friends of SDSU has not falsely implied that the SDSU West proposal is spearheaded or endorsed by SDSU. More from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“‘Friends of SDSU’ is not a term that falsely implies sponsorship or authorization of the initiative by the university,” Wohlfeil wrote in his ruling. “In fact, ‘Friends of” means just what it says: supporters and boosters of the university, not the university.”

Regarding the initiative’s title of SDSU West, Wohlfeil wrote that it’s not illegal because the plans and proposals within the measure back it up.

“The plain language of the initiative states an intention to sell the real property to SDSU for development of a campus extension comprised of research facilities and stadium, as well as development of a river park,” he wrote. “Although the initiative also permits for the development of other academic facilities, housing and commercial space, this does not render the title objectively false.”

While this helps put the SDSU West proposal closer to the ballot, the Union-Trbune reports that an appeal of this ruling is expected. According to the Union-Tribune, the city must finalize November ballot measures by early August, meaning that “the appeals court will need to follow its usual practice of expediting such matters during election years.”

The stadium included in the SDSU West proposal would be constructed with an initial capacity of 35,000, with the ability to host college football and professional soccer matches. It could also be expanded by 20,000 seats to house an NFL team. SDSU has not taken an official position on the proposal.

Rendering courtesy Populous and San Diego State University. 

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