After Mecklenburg County officials expressed the need for the city to make a decision, some Charlotte officials are still doubting a proposed contribution to a new MLS stadium.
As covered on Tuesday, Mecklenburg County is deferring its decision on whether to fund the proposed stadium until August 2. In delaying the vote, county officials are hoping that it will give the City of Charlotte time to decide whether it wants to contribute $43.75 million toward the construction of the $175 million facility.
The stadium plan proposed by Marcus Smith, who is leading Charlotte’s MLS expansion bid, called on the city and the county to contribute $43.75 million toward the construction of a new stadium on the site of Memorial Stadium and the Grady Cole Center. In January, the county gave preliminary approval to a contribution as part of a vote on its funding package, only for the city to scrap a planned vote.
Thus far, the city has not planned to reconsider the matter in another vote. In light of the county’s recent action, some on the city council are questioning are whether the proposal should be reconsidered, citing factors such as concerns with the proposed site, the size of the contribution, and whether other issues should take precedence leading up to this fall’s election. More from The Charlotte Observer:
“I’m not a fan of the location, and if we are going to put public money into it, there has to be an economic benefit to it, and I’m not sure the Elizabeth needs a boost,” [council member Julie Eislet] said. “If they want to talk about another neighborhood like the North End, then maybe.”
Republican Ed Driggs said he was surprised by the county’s recent deadline.
“The idea that we’re now dealing with an August deadline is news,” he said. “We still don’t have a proper proposal. I personally haven’t been supportive of an investment like this.”
Mayor Jennifer Roberts could place the soccer stadium vote on the city’s agenda by herself.
Her spokesperson, Gregg Watkins, said the mayor has been speaking with council members about the county’s decision Monday. But he said he doesn’t think anything has changed since January, when council decided against the stadium proposal.
As originally proposed, Charlotte’s contribution would come from its hotel/motel occupancy tax fund. The city is one of 12 in the mix for four MLS expansion slots, with the league expected to add two clubs for the 2020 season, and an additional pair of teams at a later date.
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