With the Charlotte MLS effort apparently dead, the idea of renovating Memorial Stadium for the USL’s Charlotte Independence — at a much more modest cost — is back under consideration.
Mecklenburg County had originally envisioned a modest renovation of historic Memorial Stadium for the Independence before Marcus Smith proposed a more extensive renovation for MLS. The modest plan called for a $24-million renovation, with the city, county and Independence each contributing $8 million toward a 10,000-seat facility that could be expanded for MLS. But with a potential MLS expansion team on the like, the focus shifted to a much larger expansion and expenditure — large enough that Mecklenburg County called an end to the proceedings.
Now, with Charlotte MLS dead, the Independence and county officials want to discuss the modest renovation. From the Charlotte Observer:
Mecklenburg Commissioner Jim Puckett – who opposed the MLS deal – said he’s been talking with Jim McPhilliamy, president and managing partner of the Independence. He supports the smaller stadium renovation.
“When MLS essentially died when the city decided not to take Memorial Stadium from the county, the next day Jim called me and said, ‘Any chance we can get back in the game?’ ”
Puckett said the team and the county have a new, smaller plan. Instead of spending $24 million, the new stadium plan may be between $14 million and $16 million. Puckett said he thinks the City Council may be reluctant to spend $8 million.
“We’re brushing off the old plan,” Puckett said. “The financials are the same as before.”
The old plan with a lower price tag may be appealing to those supporting pro soccer and are realistic about the chances of landing an MLS team. The city and county can still proceed with a renovation allowing for the addition of more seating for MLS down the line.
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