Charlotte MLS Plan Calls for Memorial Stadium Demolition

Proposed Memorial Stadium renovation

As Charlotte puts together its MLS bid, the possibility of demolishing Memorial Stadium and an adjacent arena to make way for a new stadium is being discussed.  

When it was confirmed in December that Charlotte is among the 10 candidates for the league’s upcoming rounds of expansion, it was also revealed that Bruton and Marcus Smith would be leading the city’s bid. That announcement came after months of deliberation over a plan to renovate Memorial Stadium for the USL’s Charlotte Independence.

Following the announcement by the MLS, Mecklenburg County confirmed that the $24 million renovation to Memorial Stadium was being put on hold. With those plans left in limbo, the Memorial Stadium site is now being eyed as the location for a brand new MLS stadium.

The proposal calls for Memorial Stadium and the Grady Cole Center to be demolished, allowing the site to be used for a 20,000-seat, $150 million facility. The funding model, meanwhile, dictates that the Smiths, Mecklenburg County, and the City of Charlotte will each contribute $50 million, with the county owning the stadium and allocating $250,000 annually for maintenance.

No official action was taken when the plan was discussed on Wednesday, but some county officials expressed concerns. More from the Charlotte Observer:

“To lose Grady Cole with no replacement plan concerns me,” said Democratic commissioner Pat Cotham, who said she’s “not jumping up and down” over the proposal.

Under the new Charlotte plan, the city would use hotel/motel occupancy tax money for the stadium. The county’s share would come from property taxes.

There are other questions. One is whether the Elizabeth neighborhood will accept the heavier traffic that would come with a larger stadium with more events.

Ladd Van Devender, treasurer of the Elizabeth Community Association, said residents haven’t discussed the possibility of an MLS stadium.

“There are concerns overall of traffic flow and parking,” he said. “But there hasn’t been any outcry yet.”

Memorial Stadium, a Works Progress Administration project, first opened in 1936. It currently seats about 17,000 and would have been significantly overhauled under the plan for the Independence, which called for the pitch to be widened, among other projects.

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