SoccerCity signature drive kicks off in Normal Heights - KUSI News - San Diego, CA

SoccerCity signature drive kicks off in Normal Heights

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SoccerCity signature drive kicks off in Normal Heights SoccerCity signature drive kicks off in Normal Heights

San Diego (KUSI) — The signature drive to get FS Investors SoccerCity stadium and development initiative on the ballot began Wednesday.

The kick off event was on a Normal Heights hilltop with a panoramic view of the site's entire 166 acres.

While the signatures are certainly important, they're a backup plan under SoccerCity's main goal, which is to have the city council adopt the plan outright without having to go to the voters.

Francisco Carbajal was first in line to sign the petition that amends the city's general plan to provide a river park, a soccer stadium and a sports and entertainment district as part of the development plan it wants the city to adopt.

Major League Soccer is expanding the league to four cities this fall. The ballot initiative wants San Diego to be one of them. But the only way their plan works is to have the council adopt and immediately implement the initiative in June. If not, it goes to the voters next year.

"If they push that to a vote in 2018, as we've talk about, this plan is effectively dead for Major League Soccer," said Nick Stone of FS Investors. 

Stone said we've been staring at this parking lot for 15 years. 

"Today is the start of the opportunity for the citizens of San Diego to say they actually want those dreams to become a reality," Stone said.

The problem is Major League Soccer's timeline. That timeline requires the council to adopt the initiative in June, rather than pushing it off to the voters.

This initiative needs to be fast-tracked to assure the league will have a stadium along with a sports and entertainment complex if San Diego wants to be considered for a franchise this year.

"We don't think that there is an option to not have a soccer stadium specific plan ready to go and still be selected as a home for an MLS expansion birth," Stone said.

The plan will fund a river park, a stadium, residential and commercial buildings, create thousands of jobs and add $2.8 billion in regional gross domestic product.

" ... and it will do all of that without a single penny of tax payer dollars, and create almost a billion dollars in present value of a tax base benefiting the people who will ultimately own this asset the citizens of San Diego," Stone said.

"It also accommodates an NFL stadium, there's a place set aside for that, so all of you who are football players or football fans are gonna have a chance to see a stadium there too," said April Boling, initiative treasurer for SoccerCity. "There's no question this deal guarantees a stadium will get constructed."

But critics said when, citing language in the initiative that said a stadium will be built in seven years. They also claim a stadium is not guaranteed, yet the development can still go forward.

"The lease that we will sign with the city will have in it a reverter clause that says should we not build a stadium, it all reverts back to the city," Boling said. 

Again, a stadium within seven years. 

Stone said it's time to turn this property into a taxpayer asset rather than a taxpayer liability. 

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