Mecklenburg County Releases New Memorial Stadium Plan

Memorial Stadium rebuild rendering

Mecklenburg County is focusing on an overhaul of Memorial Stadium, as officials discussed on Tuesday plans to rebuild the facility. 

The future of Memorial Stadium has been connected to the long-term status of professional soccer in Charlotte. Previously, the county was considering a $24-million renovation of the facility for the USL’s Charlotte Independence, with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, county and Independence each contributing $8 million toward a 10,000-seat facility that could be expanded for MLS. However, the focus on Memorial Stadium’s future changed after Charlotte’s MLS bid–led by Marcus Smith–called for demolishing it and replacing it with a new $175 million venue.

Local elected leaders expressed trepidation about committing public funds to that project, effectively stalling MLS expansion efforts. Now, a more modest approach is on the table, as Mecklenburg County manager Dena Diorio released plans on Tuesday to rebuild Memorial Stadium, with different scopes and cost estimates in consideration. A rebuild with a 12,000-seat stadium (rendering shown above) is estimated to cost $31.7 million, while a smaller facility at 7,350 seats would come with a projected price tag of $21.3 million. Mecklenburg County would cover the cost of the rebuild on its own, though the Independence could still be in play as a possible tenant. More from The Charlotte Observer:

Commissioners voted 7-2 to support Diorio’s plan.

Republicans Ridenhour and Jim Puckett voted no.

Ridenhour said the $31.7 million price tag is too high. Puckett said the county needs to try to get Charlotte City Council to allocate tourism dollars to the project.

“I don’t want to put the burden on property tax owners,” he said.

For much of the 2017 USL season, the Independence staged home matches at the Matthews Sportsplex, a facility located in nearby Matthews, NC. The Memorial Stadium redbuild is expected to take at least two years.

Rendering courtesy Mecklenburg County.

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