County Rejects Funding Charlotte MLS Stadium, Gives Site to City

Proposed Charlotte MLS stadium

In a vote on Wednesday, the Mecklenburg County Commission rejected funding a proposed Charlotte MLS stadium. The vote also limited the county’s contribution to deeding the proposed stadium site to the City of Charlotte.

On Wednesday, it was noted that Mecklenburg County may vote to scale back its financial contribution to the proposed stadium. Rather than contributing $71.25 million to the stadium next year and an additional $43.5 million in 2020, officials were considering lowering that contribution–effectively meaning that they would go with $71.25 million next year, and then $30 million in fiscal year 2020.

The final decision, however, resulted in county commissioners voting 5-3 to reject that funding proposal, and deed the site of Memorial Stadium to the city. That location has been proposed by Charlotte MLS backer Marcus Smith as the site of a new $175 million soccer-specific stadium.

For now, the county’s vote leaves questions about how the balance of the proposal will be funded. More from The Charlotte Observer:

Now, the county is only providing the land for the proposed $175 million, 20,000-seat stadium. But the remaining balance – more than $100 million – would have to be covered by the ownership group, headed by race track executive Marcus Smith, or the city.

The ownership group, called MLS4CLT, could not be reached for comment following the county’s vote Wednesday night.

Republican Commissioner Jim Puckett proposed the deal that the commissioners ultimately supported. Puckett’s motion said the county would not provide any additional money to the project, other than deeding the stadium to the city. Additionally, it would fund 13 park and greenway projects from a 2008 bond.

“They manage stadiums and they have a division in the city that deals with pro sports teams,” Puckett said. “They have a dedicated tax revenue stream that’s for entertainment and can be used for pro sports. They have the expertise and funding stream to deal with that.”

It has been proposed that funds from the city’s hotel/motel tax revenue could be used for the new stadium, though the city has previously indicated that may only contribute up to $30 million.  Officials are expected to weigh that proposal again later this month. Charlotte is one of 12 MLS expansion contenders in the mix.

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