|Scarborough: MLS franchise would be 'progressive' addition|
|Commissioners chair backs soccer bid|
|Published Thursday, February 16, 2017 6:04 pm|
Bringing Major League Soccer to Charlotte is about more than the game.
Boosters of the city’s drive to bring an MLS franchise here said a team will help Charlotte compete with other major metropolitan areas in terms of entertainment and amenities to lure top talent, investors and people.
"If we want to do the progressive things that we say we are going to do in Charlotte and Mecklenburg [County], then we will have soccer." Mecklenburg County commissioners Chairman Ella Scarborough said at the Charlotte Center City Partners board meeting today.
Said Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio: “Soccer is the fastest-growing sport in the country, and it’s really an investment in our future, because how many kids’ and families’ lives revolve around soccer? It would be a tremendous win for this area if we were able to secure a franchise. We are very excited about the prospect. We think we’ve got a really, really good shot at being successful.”
Charlotte Center City Partners President and CEO Michael Smith shared an overview and update of the bid submitted by Speedway Motorsports Inc. President and CEO Marcus Smith.
“This proposal has some strong merits of restoring vibrancy and value of American Legion Memorial Stadium and Independence Park for the next generation,” Smith said of the facility, which was used 12 times in 2016. “This project has the opportunity to bring jobs and expand the tax base, making us more competitive for jobs, talent and guests. We think pairing Independence Park and Memorial Stadium could have a similar catalytic effect to what we’ve seen around Romare Bearden Park and BB&T Ballpark. We’ll find higher quality development at faster pace.”
Said CCCP Board of Directors Chairman Pat Riley: “I’m surprised. I don’t think I realized, or anybody realized how many acres that were there undeveloped.”
Michael Smith, who isn’t related to Marcus Smith, pointed out that there are 42 acres of potential redevelopment in the Elizabeth area.
“This is property that is ripe for redevelopment, but it’s been ripe for a while,” Michael Smith said. “This kind of stimulant brings attention.”
Marcus Smith submitted an incomplete proposal as the city did not choose to vote on supplying $43.75 million for stadium funding.
“The county approved the proposal, and the city indicated ‘not now,’” Michael Smith said of the public-private partnership. “Marcus elected to turn in the bid and meet the deadline of Jan. 31 with an incomplete proposal, but a placeholder. He was one of 12 being considered for four franchises across the next few years. This is important, because MLS said ‘there are 24 teams and at 28 teams we’re capped.’ The fact that we have a placeholder to be able to have a thoughtful, longer conversation about this as a community I think is a good thing for us.”
Charlotte has been in similar situations before with the NFL and the NBA before those leagues expanded here.
“I can remember sitting a table like this when we talked about football—the Panthers—and also a table like this when we talked about bringing basketball,” Scarborough said. “There are also people around who do not understand the economic impact that soccer has, and didn’t [understand] the economic impact of basketball and football. We just need to be on that road, because all the things we want to do in Mecklenburg County we can’t do if we don’t get that tax back, and we’ll get that back with soccer.”
Said Smith: “Many of us have been working on Charlotte soccer for a few years…These are the kind of questions that a city that is growing has to go through. Soccer is just the first one to go through the test.”
|YES!!! Make it happen CCC!!!|
|Posted on February 17, 2017|
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