SoccerCity supporters file suit to stop SDSU West initiative


David Santillan

Director of Athletics John David Wicker unveils the renderings for SDSU’s proposed Campus West stadium in November 2017.

by Bella Ross, Senior Staff Writer

Supporters of the SoccerCity initiative on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court to remove the SDSU West initiative from the November 2018 ballot over what they claim to be the unlawful use of San Diego State’s name.

The suit was filed on behalf of two men with ties to SoccerCity. While the suit seeks to remove SDSU West from the ballot, Michael Attansio, the attorney representing the two supporters, said Friends of SDSU — the group backing the west camus initiative — still has enough time to reconstruct their campaign prior to the vote in November.

“These developers have plenty of time to recirculate their petitions and gather signatures using a campaign name that is lawful and doesn’t deceive San Diego voters,” Attanasio said.

Concerns regarding the lawfulness of the use of the university’s name by Friends of SDSU — the group backing the west campus initiative — began when San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman sent a memorandum to City Attorney Mara Elliott on March 22. Within the memorandum, Sherman cites part of the California Education Code that indicates no person shall use the university’s name, or any variation of it, in support of a political campaign.

The SoccerCity supporters’ attorney referred to this law in a statement.

“Public university names are the property of the state and its citizens, and this law was specifically intended to prevent their exploitation by private business interests,” Attanasio said.

Friends of SDSU defended their use of the university’s name, citing the numerous benefits they say they are hoping to provide to the university.

“It is entirely appropriate for our initiative and campaign committee to utilize the SDSU name, given its purpose is to help San Diego State University grow its academic, research and economic benefits for San Diego,” the organization said in a statement.

The statement also claims the FS Investors choice to file a lawsuit is rooted in the group’s own insecurities regarding their ability to win the vote in November.

“This lawsuit is a desperate attempt by FS Investors to eliminate voter choice about the use of the stadium property and distract them from the details of their flawed SoccerCity initiative,” Friends of SDSU said. “FS Investors are concerned because they know most voters support the SDSU West initiative, so they are trying to deny voters that choice.”

The SDSU West campaign initially collected the 71,646 signatures required for a spot on the November ballot in January of this year, getting approved for the ballot in March. The SoccerCity initiative got approved for the ballot much earlier in March of 2017, collecting their signatures over the span of 12 days.

The announcement of the lawsuit came on the same day the SDSU West initiative received endorsements from four prominent SDSU alumni groups, including The SDSU Alumni Board, Aztec Club, Past Presidents’ Council of SDSU Alumni and Aztec Football Legacy.

Friends of SDSU steering committee member and Past Presidents’ Council of SDSU Alumni member Fred Pierce said their endorsement comes with a desire to continuously support the university.

“San Diego State University alumni have come together to support SDSU West because we know it is the best proposal regarding the Mission Valley stadium site for our beloved University,” Pierce said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity designed to help San Diego State University to grow and prosper.”