Just after it was revealed, Charlotte-area elected officials expressed their concerns about the state’s possible involvement in a North Carolina FC stadium plan.
Wednesday brought a major development for North Carolina FC’s MLS expansion bid, which is being led by owner Steve Malik. The vision for a new stadium calls for a $150 million, 22,000-seat facility that would be constructed as part of larger development. Kane Reality would serve as a partner in the project, and the additional features would include office and retail space, as well as residences, hotel rooms, and conference space.
The 13-acre site eyed for the project is owned by the state–which would lease the land for the development–and features several buildings that would likely need to be demolished. North Carolina officials are evaluating the proposal, but some Charlotte-area lawmakers expressed concerns on Thursday that the state’s role in the process could tilt the scales in favor of North Carolina FC’s bid over a separate expansion push in Charlotte. State senator Jeff Tarte is among the officials considered about the proposal. More from The News & Observer:
“The state needs to butt out of the Raleigh bid,” said Republican Sen. Jeff Tarte of Cornelius. “If they’re doing that it’s wrong and they need to stop.”
This comes as Charlotte also looks to make its case for an expansion franchise. The effort in Charlotte, led by Marcus Smith, includes a proposal for a $175 million stadium that could be funded in part by contributions from The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
In light of this, Tarte is not the only the official to state his concerns over whether North Carolina’s decision could ultimately favor Raleigh in the expansion process, as fellow senator Joel Ford expressed a similar sentiment in The News & Observer:
“I don’t believe that the state should be picking winners and losers when it comes to major league soccer,” said Ford, a Charlotte Democrat running for mayor. “The state would be giving a leg up to one city over another.”
What happens to either proposal remains to be seen. As noted, the North Carolina FC plan is being reviewed by the state, and it is expected that the project could include a request for public funds for infrastructure upgrades. Funding for the plan in Charlotte, meanwhile, is still under debate by local officials. The two North Carolina cities are among 12 expansion candidates in the mix, and MLS is expected to ultimately expected to select four bids, with two clubs joining in 2020 and an additional pair of clubs beginning play at a later date.