Davenport aldermen couldn't get enough votes, so Mayor Bill Gluba's veto of St. Ambrose University's stadium proposal stands.
The city council attempted to override the mayor's veto at a special meeting Wednesday at City Hall. But in a 6-4 vote, the council was shy of the seven votes needed to make it happen.
"I'm here begging for an override," Merredyth McManus, the university's student retention director, said before sharing how the university lost five athletes in one semester because "they did not want to spend one more day at our soccer facilities."
Despite impassioned pleas from more than 50 speakers both for and against the stadium, aldermen voted Wednesday as they did July 9, when they approved the stadium plan. Gluba vetoed the plan July 16.
In a written statement after Wednesday's vote, Gluba said his veto was "mostly about protecting the property rights of homeowners and neighbors from deterioration and devaluation."
University officials say they are re-evaluating their options, including a plan to develop a sports complex with nearby Assumption High School.
Sister Joan Lescinski, president of St. Ambrose University, said she was "extremely disappointed" the council couldn't override the veto.
She said officials will move forward and “study all options,” including those possible through Assumption.
St. Ambrose sought a rezoning of a portion of the St. Vincent's Center property from moderate density dwelling district to a planned institutional district so the university could build an athletic complex with a 2,500-seat football stadium and track, parking and other athletic fields.
Neighbors opposed to the project have cited traffic congestion from the stadium among their concerns, as well as added noise during games and worsening stormwater runoff from building a large structure in a wetlands area.
Mike Poster, St. Ambrose's vice president for finance, said the university made "significant concessions" with neighbors.
"We spent four years listening to neighbors, designing a complex that met and even exceeded every city requirement," he said.
Some neighbors who live around the St. Vincent property were relieved after Wednesday's vote.
"Of course I am," Jacklynn Draper said. "I've been fighting this for five years. Everything they've done is to make them look good, to protect their own property, not ours."
Council chambers filled to standing-room-only before the meeting began at 5 p.m. The public comment stretched to 90 minutes as more and more lined up to speak.
A contingent of young women attended the session — many of them will begin their freshman year at Assumption High School later this month. Assumption is next to the St. Vincent property.
Several of the student-athletes pleaded that the council allow St. Ambrose University to build better athletic facilities that Assumption students could use in the future.
A few St. Vincent neighbors supported the plan, among them Sally Ellis, an Assumption graduate who called opposition to the stadium a "bunch of silliness."
Many neighbors spoke against it.
Eileen Heinold said she fears the complex will drive away prospective homeowners.
"They don't want to be close to a stadium," Heinold said.
Among the opponents, Donnie Miller said a stadium would devalue the neighborhood to the point of attracting violent crime to the area.
"Do you want to raise children with bullets flying around?" Miller asked. His comment drew groans from the audience.
Betzy McLeland said she and her neighbors realized they were in the minority with their opposition to the stadium, but the mayor’s veto served to protect the minority opinion.
Neighbors are prepared to “do what we can to protect our neighborhood,” McLeland said.