Barbara Bry speaks at the Public Land, Public Vote press conference. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Opponents of the “SoccerCity” project said Friday the city needs more time to consider alternatives for the Qualcomm Stadium site, even at the risk of losing a soccer franchise.

“We don’t give away our most valuable piece of land just because we might get a soccer team,” said City Councilmember Barbara Bry.

“Deciding the future of this site is a once-in-a-lifetime gift to San Diego,” she said.

Bry, Assemblymember Todd Gloria and members of the Public Land, Public Vote coalition met with reporters outside City Hall to explain their opposition to calling a special election on the project in November.

They said time is needed to examine other alternatives, the project is bad for San Diego State University and in any case Measure L requires citizen initiatives to be placed on a general election ballot.

SoccerCity developer FS Investors has said that postponing the vote would essentially kill the project because Major League Soccer franchises are set to be awarded at the end of this year. But opponents said there was no certainty San Diego would get one.

“There’s no guarantee that we will get Major League Soccer if this project is adopted,” said Gloria.

He described the Qualcomm site as “the most valuable piece of developable, taxpayer-owned land” in San Diego.

Fred Pierce, who represents the Past Presidents Council of SDSU Alumni, said the Qualcomm site is “the only place logical for the university to grow into the future.”

He said the proposed stadium is too small for the university’s football program. At 30,000 seats as described in the ballot measure, it’s smaller than the Mountain West Conference average of nearly 40,000.

And he said SoccerCity shouldn’t be seen as the last chance for San Diego to get a soccer franchise.

“If San Diego is meant to have a soccer franchise, I think the powers that be can make that happen,” Pierce said.

FS investors has collected enough signatures to force a public vote, but the City Council has twice rejected calling a $5 million special election, saying the measure should be decided in the November 2018 general election. The council is set to consider the SoccerCity project at its Monday meeting.

The opposition is unusually bi-partisan, including all five of the Democrats on the City Council as well as the Republican Lincoln Club. The Public Land, Public Vote coalition receives major funding from H.G. Fenton Company and Sudberry Properties, two developers with significant investments in Mission Valley.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.