Charlotte Preps for Visit as MLS Expansion Bid Continues

Proposed Charlotte MLS stadium

MLS officials are slated visit Charlotte next week, an appearance that would come the city’s MLS expansion bid continues to unfold.  

Charlotte is among the 12 candidates in the mix for one of four MLS expansion slots, with its bid being led by Marcus Smith. Smith has proposed that a new $175 million facility be constructed on the site of Memorial Stadium and the Grady Cole Center, but has failed to secure a commitment in city funding. Mecklenburg County, meanwhile, recently opted to defer its decision on whether to commit funds for the project.

It appears that in the weeks leading up to the county’s August vote, a high-ranking MLS official will visit the area. League president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott is reportedly scheduled to visit Charlotte on Tuesday, July 18 and could meet with county officials. More from The Charlotte Observer:

Mecklenburg manager Dena Diorio told commissioners in an e-mail Monday that Abbott will be in town on July 18 “for a series of events.” Abbott, she said, is hoping to meet with commissioners that morning.

It’s unclear whether the county plans for the meeting to be public. If the meeting is held behind closed doors, a majority of commissioners could not meet with Abbott simultaneously under the state’s open meetings laws.

“We are working on finalizing details on our next trip,” MLS spokesman Dan Courtemanche told the Observer, although he declined to say whether Charlotte is next up.

The county had a proposal in its capital budget for $71.25 million in funds for the stadium next year, and an additional $43.75 million for fiscal year 2020. The city recently tasked an economic development committee with taking a closer look at the stadium proposal, but indicated that it may allot $30 million to the stadium rather than the previously requested $43.75 million.

In a story on website, MLS revealed some details of the planned visit. A rally in support of the MLS expansion bid is scheduled to take place that afternoon, and league officials are expected to meet with area representatives. “We’re really excited to provide MLS leadership with an up-close look at the passion Charlotte has for soccer,” Smith said in a statement. “More important, we’re looking forward to showcasing all the different ways Major League Soccer can positively impact our community.”

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