MLS Stadium Funds Included in Proposed Mecklenburg County Budget

Proposed Charlotte MLS stadium

Funds for a proposed Charlotte MLS stadium are included in Mecklenburg County’s parks capital plan, which is being considered by officials. 

The effort to bring an MLS expansion franchise to Charlotte is being led by Marcus Smith, and includes a proposal to construct a new facility on the site of Memorial Stadium and the Grady Cole Center. A funding model released earlier this year called on the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to each contribute $43.75 million to the stadium’s, with the facility’s price tag estimated to be $175 million.

In January, Mecklenburg County commissioners signed off on the county’s contribution, only for the city to scrap its vote on the proposal. There still appears to be some reluctance among some city leaders to reconsider the plan, leaving questions about where the effort stands, but the county is still considering the matter.

A recent proposal includes $277 million for the county parks and recreation capital budget through 2023. The stadium is rolled into that figure, and the county would allocate funds to the project over several years. More from The Charlotte Observer:

A large part of the parks capital plan is nearly $119 million in upfront money for a new professional soccer stadium in Elizabeth, which would be built on the site of Memorial Stadium and the Grady Cole Center.

The proposed capital budget includes $71.25 million for the stadium next year, and then another $47.5 million for fiscal year 2020. After that, the county would begin collecting lease payments of $4.26 million a year from the potential soccer team, whose prospective ownership group is led by Marcus Smith of Speedway Motorsports. Charlotte hasn’t been awarded an expansion team yet.

Commissioners approved the stadium plan in a 5-3 vote. Democrat Pat Cotham joined Republicans Matthew Rindenhour and Jim Puckett in voting no, and Republican Bill James – who didn’t vote – also opposed the plan.

As part of the agreement, the county–which owns the site–would also own the stadium if it is constructed. The county also agreed to finance $75 million of Smith’s $87.5 million contribution, which would be repaid annually for 25 years.

The proposed budget is still under consideration, and a public hearing has been scheduled for June 5.

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