A proposal to renovate Charlotte’s Memorial Stadium has received a key endorsement, as the president of City Center Partners has backed the project.
Officials in Mecklenburg County have been mulling a proposed renovation of venerable Memorial Stadium, which would be renovated into a soccer-specific venue. Current plans call for the Charlotte Independence to set up shop in the facility, which is projected to seat more than 10,000 but could be expanded in the event that Charlotte lands an MLS expansion franchise.
Charlotte City Center Partners is involved in the proposal, and president Michael Smith has made it clear that he sees value in the project. More from the Charlotte Post:
“There is a magic to soccer that we are just beginning to understand,” Smith said at Goodyear Arts in Uptown. “Memorial Stadium is ripe for renewal. Renewal of purpose. Renewal of investment.”
Since the initial proposal by Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Department Director James Garges on July 6 to Mecklenburg County Commissioners, Smith noted the board could approve partial funding of the $25 million project as early as September. This would include a three-part funding split between Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, the county and the Charlotte Independence/Hounds.
“CRVA has raised their hand and said ‘we want to be a part of this. We see the value of this,’” Smith said.
Said Independence President and Managing Partner Jim McPhilliamy: “The goal has always been to [bring MLS to Charlotte].”
According to the report: “Charlotte Center City Partners is partnering with Mecklenburg County, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, the City of Charlotte, CRVA and the Charlotte Independence/Charlotte Hounds to create a proposal to renovate American Legion Memorial Stadium. The project, as envisioned, is a $25 million public-private renovation of the stadium and will create a facility that can support professional soccer.”
In July, the Independence offered to pay $8 million toward the roughly $25 million project. Regardless of whether Charlotte pursues the MLS, the Independence believe that a soccer-specific venue is needed to keep its operations viable, as the team currently plays at the Ramblewood Soccer Complex.
Smith’s backing adds to some of the enthusiasm that has developed in Charlotte, where several business leaders have already stated their desire to see an MLS squad in the city.