The San Diego City Council on Monday voted 8-1 against including the $5 million in the city budget which would have allowed for a November 2017 special election that was contemplated to include a public referendum on a proposed soccer stadium plan.
San Diego is one of 12 cities vying for an MLS expansion team after a bid was submitted in January by prospective owners FS Investors.
The city’s mayor, Kevin Falconer, has indicated he'll issue a line-item veto to restore the city funding for the special election.
The City Council, which would need six votes to override any further changes to the budget made by the mayor’s office, is still scheduled to meet on June 19 to vote on adding the SoccerCity project to a November 2017 ballot.
“A City Council majority is supporting the unprecedented step of blocking a public election by stripping funding from the budget. This short-sighted move results in denying the public a vote and getting nothing accomplished for our city,” Falconer said in a statement.
"I intend to use my veto authority to restore the special election funding, while still retaining the added funding for our police, so the City Council can take an up-or-down vote on these urgent ballot measures. The City Council should not ignore these time-sensitive issues – and give San Diegans the opportunity to vote this year.”
After the developments in San Diego, MLS issued the following statement:
"We believe San Diego could be a successful market for a Major League Soccer expansion team, and we have been impressed by the ownership group, stadium plan and fan support.
"The decision to award four expansion teams is a lengthy and rigorous process designed to determine strength of the bids. Following today’s vote, we will speak with FS Investors and Mayor Faulconer to assess the impact of this decision on San Diego’s efforts to acquire an MLS expansion club."
FS Investors and SoccerCity project manager Nick Stone indicated they were now looking ahead to the June 19 date and “giving the City Council an opportunity to make a decision that matters."
"We will continue to forcefully make the case about how important it is that the Council give San Diegans the ability to vote on a plan that provides so many public benefits while costing taxpayers nothing,” read the statement by Stone.
MLS plans to announce its next two expansion teams later this year, with another pair to follow, bringing the total number of clubs in the league to 28.
"Since January, the league has been reviewing the applications, visiting markets and potential stadium sites and meeting with prospective ownership groups,” read the statement from the league. "The quality of the plans and ownership groups is very impressive and the interest in acquiring an MLS expansion club has never been higher."