Industry News

San Diego group hails ‘unprecedented’ support for MLS stadium plans

A group seeking to build a Major League Soccer stadium in San Diego has collected enough signatures to either force the US city’s council to approve the project or put the matter to a public vote.

The project has been dubbed SoccerCity. The group is seeking to transform the land on which Qualcomm Stadium, former home of NFL American football franchise the Chargers, currently sits.

Qualcomm Stadium (pictured) is currently without a major league tenant after it was announced in January that the Chargers would be moving to Los Angeles.

Under the SoccerCity proposal, a $200m (£160.1m/€186.3m) MLS-specific stadium would be built on the current stadium site, and serve as the hub of a wide-ranging $1bn development complex.

The proposal, which was first unveiled in late January, has already gathered over 100,000 signatures. As the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper reports, the figure far surpasses the 71,646 needed under San Diego law for initiatives to be considered.

“Gathering 108,000 signatures in 12 days is unprecedented in the city of San Diego and, as best we can tell, it is unprecedented in the state of California,” Nick Stone, a spokesman for FS Investors, whose founder, Mike Stone, is leading the project, said, according to the Union-Tribune.

“We thought this would take months. The outpouring of support for this initiative means we’re done in under two weeks.”

The plans also include the option to build another NFL stadium in the immediate vicinity, should the league opt to return to San Diego in the future.

Two new franchises joined MLS at the start of the current season in the shape of Minnesota United and Atlanta United.

Los Angeles FC will become the league’s 23rd team in 2018, while plans for a Miami-based franchise, led by David Beckham, are being discussed.

The league is aiming to add two more teams by the 2020 season, with a further two clubs to join at a later date, taking the total number of franchises to 28.

MLS confirmed in December that San Diego was one of 10 markets to have expressed an interest in securing an expansion franchise, along with Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio and Tampa/St. Petersburg.