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Mayoral contender: Current tourism sites before soccer stadium
Kenny Smith lukewarm on city funding for MLS
Published Wednesday, October 18, 2017 5:22 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Charlotte politicians don’t consider Major League Soccer a priority.

Republican mayoral candidate and District 6 Charlotte City Council member Kenny Smith reiterated what political leaders have been saying for years: they like the idea, but they’re just not that into it. Smith, like others before him, said he would “love for soccer to come here,” but sees investing in existing tourism infrastructure as a better move.

Explaining his stance Tuesday on The Post’s political podcast The Stump, Smith pointed to affordable housing as a more pressing issue.

“Major League Soccer was going to be funded from the tourism tax,” Smith said.  “Priorities—Discovery Place is funded through the tourism tax. We know that at some point—this one was really tough—we voted for about $900,000 to [hire a] consultant to help us figure out how to better utilize and drastically overhaul Discovery Place. Initial estimates, just sort of cocktail napkin math as you’ve heard, may be $35-50 million. That would not all come from the city, but we know that we’re going to have needs like that to come out of the tourism fund. I think more people get use out of Discovery Place than they would a soccer stadium.”

When MLS4CLT CEO Marcus Smith announced his intention to bid for an expansion franchise in December, it raised the question of where city and Mecklenburg County priorities lie. Charlotte remains under the microscope since a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott in 2016, as well as the retribution of major corporations such as the NBA pulling the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte in response to HB2.

“Again, it’s an issue of priorities,” Smith said. “I would love for soccer to come here. It would be great for the city. It would help be another feather in our cap, but is that where we should invest our public resources? In my opinion, that is not an area where we should invest our public resources.”

Marcus Smith’s initial proposal called for an overhaul of American Legion Memorial Stadium in Elizabeth, a neighborhood adjacent to Uptown. When the county offered to deed the property to the city, council members swiftly declined, and instructed MLS4CLT to select a different stadium site. An MLS prerequisite for consideration lies in stadium location, which must be in the vicinity of center city. Without Memorial Stadium, bringing a franchise to Charlotte falls on the city.

“We know we’re going to have additional requests at some point from the Panthers and the Hornets based on where our contractual obligations lay with them,” Smith said. “So you take Panthers, Hornets, Discovery Place, compare those against soccer, it doesn’t make much sense.”


Not a priority even though not even ONE resident has relocated to to Charlotte in history because of Discovery Place, the NFL is dying before our eyes, and the NBA does not fill a NEEDED nighttime summer niche when the kids are out of school. Frickin? BRAIN DEAD!!!!
Posted on October 18, 2017
Local politicians don?t see it as a priority because the fans base hasn?t been organized until now. The Queen?s Firm is Charlotte?s MLS supporters group! We are dedicated to bring MLS to the Queen City and need your support! Ashley we would love to be able to talk to you about the great things we have planned to connect soccer and our communities together.

Twitter: @queensfirm
Posted on October 18, 2017

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