After voting earlier to walk away from public funding of a new Charlotte MLS stadium, officials say they’ll have the city economic development committee look at the numbers — though no commitment is as yet on the horizon.
The full council voted yesterday to refer a proposed city contribution to a new Charlotte MLS stadium. Mecklenburg County has already a proposal in the capital budget to spend $71.25 million for a new Charlotte MLS stadium in 2018 and $43.75 million for fiscal year 2020. As part of the funding plan considered by the county, the city would be asked to kick in $43.75 million for a new Charlotte MLS stadium on the current Memorial Stadium site. Under the proposal from Marcus Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports, the public would fund the majority of the cost of the $175 million facility.
The lack of commitment from the city is a huge roadblock to the project proceeding, however. So while the participation of the city’s economic development committee is a move forward, it’s a tiny move forward. There are no plans for a vote from the committee, much less the city, even though the city is now reportedly being asked to contributing $30 million, rather than the original $43.75 million. From the Charlotte Observer:
“We didn’t have an opportunity to fully vet it before,” said at-large council member Julie Eiselt, a Democrat, about the decision to send the stadium proposal to the committee. “Some residents want it, some don’t want it. We have a responsibility to take it through the process.”
Meanwhile, council members urged public comment from the community on the proposal….
Gregg Watkins, who handles communications for Mayor Jennifer Roberts, said the city needs more information.
“She wants more input from the public,” he said. “She wants to hear from the Elizabeth community, from the Charlotte Independence (a minor-league soccer team that would be impacted), and whether people want it or not.”
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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