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MLS expansion bid moves forward
City given time to join stadium plan
Published Monday, January 30, 2017 5:07 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Bringing Major League Soccer to Charlotte won’t require city funding at present.

Speedway Motorsports Inc. President and CEO Marcus Smith is applying for an expansion franchise without the city approving funding. Bids are due tomorrow at 5 p.m.

“Applying tomorrow! #MLS4CLT City has time to consider investment of existing tourism $ in project. County/Team would match city $3:$1 Smart,” Smith tweeted this afternoon.

Said Mike Burch, SMI’s chief strategy officer: “Earlier today, Marcus Smith tweeted out that we are going to continue the MLS expansion process, and submit a bid to the MLS to bring a team to Charlotte.”

On Jan. 26, Mecklenburg County commissioners voted to provide $43.75 million in funding to redesign American Legion Memorial Stadium as an MLS-specific site. Then, Charlotte City Council announced at its retreat in Raleigh it would neither hold a public hearing to gain input on whether to provide $43.75 million to the project nor vote prior to application deadline.

“After last week, the City Council asked for more time to examine the opportunity,” Burch said. “We talked to city officials, county officials and MLS officials, and [we] just feel like it makes sense to continue discussions and see where we end up on it.”

Burch articulated that the city would have the opportunity to jump on board later during the process.

“Absolutely,” he said. “That’s what this is. They asked for more time. So we’ll continue our talks with them and see where we end up.”

Burch continued: “The city is looking to put forth tourism dollars. We think this is a great use of those dollars to build a first class stadium—also to bring an MLS here, and the exposure that brings, and the people that brings to Charlotte.”

MLS announced that 12 markets are being considered for the expansion process, whereas in December the league was considering 10 markets. Raleigh and Charlotte are among the original 10. Should either’s bid be accepted, they would pay a $150 million expansion fee. The league will announce the two new teams in the second and third quarter of 2017. Those clubs would begin play in 2020.

“We are going to move forward as proposed,” Burch said. “I do not [know the two additional cities]. I know Phoenix, Arizona was added. I don’t know who the 12th is.”

While the city does not have a set date that it must approve or deny funding, Burch emphasized the competitive nature of the expansion process.

“This is a competitive process,” Burch said. “Every day that goes by, everybody else is trying to win this bid. I think the sooner we can get everything in line with our bid, it certainly helps our chances.”


Prime real estate? What a joke. Memorial Stadium is an absolute eye sore whose finest hour was before the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Posted on January 31, 2017
Subsidizing the purchase of prime real estate for ~20 events per year. Cronyism at its worst. City commissioners got rolled.
Posted on January 31, 2017
Total no brainer. CCC best get it's head out of behind fast and approve their part of the deal for the good of the region.
Posted on January 30, 2017

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