San Diego City Council members voted unanimously, 8-0, to put the SoccerCity initiative on the November 2018 ballot Monday, instead of a special election.
Councilmember Scott Sherman did say it's possible there could be another vote at a different time, leaving a small glimmer of hope for an earlier special election. During Monday's meeting, he stressed that he wanted to have a special election but will not because legal opinion does not support that motion.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer was less than pleased with the council's decision.
"The Council shelved a plan more than 100,000 San Diegans support," said Faulconer, in a statement. "Regardless of whether they personally supported or opposed SoccerCity, councilmembers should have given San Diegans the chance to vote when it mattered the most."
Councilmember Barbara Bry praised the motion.
"The City can now move forward expeditiously with a fair, transparent and competitive process to bring alternate options for the development of the Mission Valley site to the public prior to the November 2018 election," said Bry, in a statement.
For weeks, backers and opponents have had heated arguments over every detail of the plan, with a lot of passion on each side.
SoccerCity supporters say that failure to create a special election essentially kills the project, and time is money. They don't expect investors to wait around until 2018, with their plan calling for housing, hotels, a river park and a soccer stadium.
Major League Soccer officials say they are deciding on a city in December and won't pick San Diego if there's no soccer stadium.
Backers of the plan say a "no" to a special election is a "yes" to a decade-long delay on a redevelopment of the Qualcomm Stadium. City taxpayers pay $12 million a year on maintaining the deteriorating and abandoned football stadium.
Ideas from other developers could take years, while the city incurs millions of dollars in debt on the current stadium, according to supporters.
The project was so important to Pro Soccer player Landon Donovan that he left his wife in labor at the hospital to urge councilmembers to move forward with the project. He spoke of how he would explain this to his future child.
"They're gonna say, 'Dad, did you do everything you could to make this happen?'" said Donovan. "And I'm gonna look them in the eye and say 'Yeah, including risking missing the birth of my child.'"
San Diego State University officials issued the following statement regarding the initiative:
"We look forward to working with the City and other key stakeholders to evaluate the best use for the Mission Valley property with the goal of securing a future home for Aztec football and growing the university's academic and research endeavors."
An opponent of SoccerCity, Jack McGrory had another perspective to add.
"We want an open transparent land-use planning process with community involvement," said McGrory. "We want an open competitive bidding process. I don't know what the problem with competition is, to get the best possible deal for our city."
Monday night, Nick Stone, Project Manager for SoccerCity also sent out a statement in response to the decision, which read:
"Today, the City Council heard hours of incredibly compelling testimony from hundreds of San Diegans who said they wanted to vote on SoccerCity before the MLS selects cities for the league’s final four teams this fall. We’re proud of the huge, broad coalition of citizens that stood up today against the powerful political establishment who wants to kill the project through delay. The motion the City Council unanimously passed explicitly allows for future consideration of a special election on SoccerCity this year. We owe it to supporters to continue to fight for their right to cast a vote when it still matters."