San Diego voters dealt a major blow Tuesday to the possibility of MLS expansion as Landon Donovan and the SoccerCity team saw Measure E set to be defeated with the majority of the votes being counted.
Two measures on the ballot centered on who would redevelop the Mission Valley site. Measure G is backed by San Diego State University and looks to use the site to expand the campus. If passed, Measure E would allow SoccerCity to use the site to build a stadium for a possible MLS franchise.
To pass the measures would have to receive at least 50 percent of the vote. As of Wednesday, morning with 72 percent of precincts reporting, Measure G leads with 55 percent of the vote while Measure E is polling at just 29 percent.
“It was a rough night, but in the end it was clear that it was more about politics and other factors than soccer,” Landon Donovan told Goal.com. “Unfortunately that’s what this town is known for, making things not happen, and we saw that up close.”
The vote in San Diego was one of two MLS-related initiatives that voters considered regarding to expansion. In Miami, David Beckham and his ownership group took a positive step toward building a stadium with an initiative that received support by Miami voters.
SoccerCity’s plan includes a proposed 23,000 seat stadium that could be used by the SDSU football stadium. The Measure G plan includes a 35,000 seat football stadium and unlike Measure E includes expansion of the SDSU campus. Another big difference in the two projects was that SoccerCity’s plan called for privately-funded construction, while Measure E’s plans for a stadium and campus expansion will require public funding.
The loss on Tuesday makes it unlikely for the MLS to expand to San Diego in the near future. However, SDSU athletic director John David Wicker mentioned the possibility that the school’s football stadium could accommodate an MLS team and that the school would work with the league to possibly partner with an ownership group to bring a team to San Diego.
That invitation is unlikely to be accepted, with MLS officials having made it clear that SoccerCity was San Diego’s best, and really only hope for MLS expansion.