I spent a few hours reporting on the MLS stadium petition yesterday and all it did was feed my uncertainty about the outcome.
At first, it seemed pretty clear to me that the city had erred in saying that the initiative could not be on the ballot in May. The charter only says that you can’t have more than one special election every six months, but the initiatives that we voted on in November were on the general election ballot.
Except that, as pointed out to me by city staff, the customary ordinance that Council approves to authorize the elections last year actually distinguished between the general election for City Council that would appear on the Nov. 6 ballot and the special election for the various propositions that would appear on the same ballot.
Now, as for whether the initiative can actually halt the stadium at McKalla Place…Again, I tend to believe that the deal that was authorized by City Council cannot be undone by a new ordinance that says that such deals must instead by authorized by the voters.
However, it gives me pause that Bill Aleshire, who has a record of successfully sparring with city attorneys in court, says the deal may not be set in stone. He suggested that an initiative that changes the procedure by which a site plan for a new stadium is approved could affect the site plan previously approved by Council/city staff etc. It doesn’t quite make sense to me, but again, I don’t think that Aleshire is blowing smoke.
For what it’s worth, a source close to Precourt tells me that while they were not confident that the deal was rock-solid based on Council’s approval in August, they feel that the contract that Council signed in December put them in the clear vis-a-vis the anti-MLS initiative.
Here’s what will tell you whether the initiative could actually affect the McKalla deal: Is Bobby Epstein still spending money? If he’s not willing to spend his own money, then that’s a strong signal that he’s determined that the referendum will not actually achieve his goal of blocking a local competitor.