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The Voice of the Black Community
Charlotte soccer stadium talks on hold until spring
MLS likely to bypass market for expansion
Published Monday, October 23, 2017 11:45 am
by Ashley Mahoney

Charlotte doesn’t know where to put a Major League Soccer stadium.

Ten months since the league announced its intention to expand, and nine since Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith submitted a bid for a franchise, MLS4CLT lost a potential home in August due to Mecklenburg County and the city of Charlotte’s disagreement on how to refurbish the American Legion Memorial Stadium site in the Elizabeth neighborhood. Without the county-controlled site, the bid’s appeal to MLS becomes moot, as a prerequisite for an expansion franchise is an urban stadium location.

“The big one is location,” said Charlotte City Council member James Mitchell, who chairs the Economic Development Committee. “Folks are looking at the location, and we’re trying to make sure that the right location can serve as what we call a catalyst for additional community benefits besides just soccer. We want soccer to be the catalyst, but part of over an overall transformative type project for the area. That’s the key.”

Charlotte’s needs do not align with the desires of MLS. Elizabeth residents—who count Central Piedmont Community College and Novant Health Presbyterian Hospital as neighbors—have opposed the stadium. A site like the former Eastland Mall—a better candidate for economic development—falls outside of the league’s desired distance from the urban core.

“We want to make sure that the [stadium] has access to the light rail,” Mitchell said. “That it has access to job opportunities. We’re going through a very thorough checklist to make sure that the soccer is part of a bigger development, and that bigger development will allow us to have more community benefits as well.”

The Nov. 7 municipal elections could further change the discussion, as the council that the stadium proposal was presented will change with at least three new members taking seats.

“With an election year, I think it has put it on the back burner,” Mitchell said. “Most of us are focused on trying to get reelected, and share our vision with the citizens. The new council is coming on Dec. 5. If I had to guess, I would say this is going to be a long, drawn out process. I don’t think Charlotte will be awarded [a franchise] in December. There’s no way we would have land under control [by then]. I think Nashville is in the first position, and I don’t know who would be in second. Unfortunately, I do not think we will be able to compete in December when the announcement will be made for the first two expansion teams.”

Council campaigns have focused on issues such as affordable housing, public safety, “trust and accountability with police” and job creation. Locating and funding a stadium site hasn’t been a priority.

“Soccer has not been a campaign issue that people will bring up,” Mitchell said. “As chair of Economic Development, I clearly think that when you look at our new demographic, soccer fits Charlotte very well. It’s not a top-three or a top-five priority, but I do think once the council gets settled, probably in the springtime, at least in the Economic Development Committee, we can have some conversation in the spring of 2018 about soccer, and what’s the next steps for the city.”



God Bless James, the only member willing to put his own political ?nuts on the line? for this cause-but what an absolute, utter disaster.

Where to begin? Nashville?s bid was breathed life after Charlotte?s arrogance/hesitance/delay to MLS4CLT, which netted them the ICC this year over us and the momentum to steamroll us. They don?t have ONE other advantage over us-not ONE!!!!!!!!!

8 international games since 2010 but still can?t find a stadium site. Utter failure.

The reason Trump was elected and the reason people don?t trust politicians anymore-bullcrap like this.

Putting personal politics over the youth that love and play soccer is disgusting, not to mention CRIPPLING for Charlotte in the next generation.
Posted on October 24, 2017
I don't know where you get that the Elizabeth community is opposed. The ECA conducted a survey and there was about 70% approval. Our elected leaders did a poor job of understanding the issue and somehow the MLS proposed was pitted against greenways. The Smith's did a terrible job of promotion. Michell saying that Nashville is in the 1st position in the east shows that our leaders have no idea how this proposal is going.
Posted on October 23, 2017

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