Talks for a proposed Memorial Stadium renovation are on hold, as Mecklenburg County wants to wait and see how Charlotte’s MLS expansion bid progresses.
Charlotte was recently named one of 10 finalists for the MLS’ upcoming rounds of expansion. Leading the city’s expansion effort is billionaire race track owner Bruton Smith and his son Marcus.
Previous conversations in Charlotte have surrounded a proposed $24 million Memorial Stadium renovation, which has been pitched for the USL’s Charlotte Independence, a franchise that has played the past two seasons at the Ramblewood Soccer Complex. However, the possibility had been raised that the upgrades could include an expansion of the facility to MLS standards if Charlotte was ultimately successful in obtaining franchise.
For the time being, however, Mecklenburg County officials say that they want to hold off on the proposal. This is being done not only to see if Charlotte is successful in its MLS bid but, if so, if a Memorial Stadium renovation is the still the preferred option by the league and ownership. More from The Charlotte Observer:
Jim Garges, Mecklenburg’s Parks and Recreation director, said it makes sense to wait before moving forward with the current Memorial Stadium plan.
“We’ll have to see how it plays out,” Garges said. “There are a lot of unknowns. We have to see if we can get a franchise here. I hope so.”
Smith declined to comment Friday about where his proposed expansion team would play, and whether the Charlotte bid would focus on Memorial Stadium. Garges said he hasn’t spoken with the Smiths either.
Several markets are expected to pitch brand new stadiums in their packages, including Raleigh-Durham, where North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik has recently upped his pursuit of an MLS franchise. For now, it seems that local officials want to see what Charlotte’s best options will be if the league continues to look at the market.
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