County Approves MLS Stadium Proposal

CHARLOTTE, NC — Mecklenburg County commissioners agreed to kick in almost $44 million to a new stadium that could help Charlotte land a Major League Soccer team. The vote was contentious, and it may not be enough to make the deal happen.

“If there’s a partnership, we’re ready to be partners,” says commissioner Trevor Fuller, who voted for the proposal. “And so I’ll leave it to them as to what decision they’re going to make.”

Mecklenburg County commissioners voted 5-4 to approve a proposal that would demolish Memorial Stadium and the Grady Cole Center to build a $175 million stadium for a Charlotte Major League Soccer team.

The county and city would each contribute $43.75 million an ownership group headed by Marcus Smith would pay the rest. The county would own the facility. The team would have a 25-year lease.

“I have to hope that there’s sanity within the city council, that they see this is not the way to run governments,” says commissioner Jim Puckett.

Commissioner Puckett opposed the deal, and called on Charlotte’s city council to vote ‘no’.

“Surely we are not going to be dumb enough to do it all ourselves,” says Puckett. “So if the city says no, that the priorities need to be somewhere else, then I fully anticipate that this will die.”

Minutes after the county approved the deal, the city canceled a meeting for public input scheduled for Friday. A statement from Mayor Jennifer Roberts says the city is not prepared to move forward on the current soccer proposal at this time.

The MLS has set a January 31st deadline for bids from ten cities vying for four potential teams.

We reached out to Marcus Smith and a representative says any next steps regarding MLS are still to be determined. Mecklenburg County manager Dena Diorio says despite the city’s announcement, the deal may not be dead.

“We’ve talked to the team, and they have talked to the league,” says Diorio. “And, you know, not having and affirmative vote from city council does not kill the deal from their perspective.”

There is no word on if the city will reschedule the public input meeting before the MLS bid deadline next Tuesday. The league plans to award two franchises for the 2020 season, and two more likely for 2022.