Charlotte's Major League Soccer Bid Appears Dead

Oct 23, 2017

The clock has run out on Charlotte's bid for a Major League Soccer team. Supporters said Monday they won't be able to come up with a stadium deal before the league picks two new teams in December. 

City council member James Mitchell has supported the Charlotte bid from a group headed by Marcus Smith of Speedway Motor Sports. But Mitchell said Monday he and the group had no success finding a new stadium site after the county commission dropped out of a deal to build a new stadium where Memorial Stadium now sits. 

"We could not make the December timeframe. And so we need to find more time to find a urban site, according to MLS standards," he said.

Mitchell said besides the lack of a site, the bid faces other major hurdles. For one, the city is only able to commit about 30 million dollars to a stadium project - far less than the bidding group MLS4CLT wanted.

And he said any deal likely wouldn't be able to match Nashville’s. Potential owners have worked out a stadium deal with mostly private money.

"The Nashville deal is a game changer. Nashville just announced that they got private financing that will cover 90 percent of costs. It’s a 250 million dollar stadium. Twenty seven thousand five hundred seats," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the city has too many other projects on its plate right now, such as renovations to the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Hornets' facilities, convention center upgrades and a possible amateur sports village.

And the current council has been unwilling to use tourism tax dollars to help fund a stadium. Mitchell said that could change with the council election next month, and hopes the new council will revisit the MLS bid next year.

A spokesman for MLS4CLT confirmed news reports that Smith isn't sure whether he'll try again to land a team. MLS plans to award two more franchises in the coming years.

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