With an announcement set for tomorrow morning, there are still some unknowns about a pledge from city officials of $110 million in hospitality funds to help solidify Charlotte MLS expansion plans.
On Tuesday morning, Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper will be joined by a contingent that includes Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles and MLS commissioner Don Garber for what is expected to be announcement on the league awarding Charlotte its 30th team. Under Tepper, Charlotte’s MLS prospects have grown considerably, as he has pitched a shared MLS/NFL facility situation that emulates markets like Atlanta and Seattle.
One of the key factors behind Charlotte’s bid will be city aid in the form of hospitality funds, as Lyles sent a letter to Garber last month revealing that city was willing to set aside $110 million “to help ensure a successful venture over the next many years.” From Charlotte’s prospective, there are two significant endeavors that come with an MLS expansion club, including plans to upgrade Bank of America Stadium and a training academy that is expected to be built as part of a redevelopment of the former Eastland Mall site.
In theory, the hospitality funds could go toward one or both of those facility projects–with Bank of America Stadium renovations playing into the effort to develop an entertainment district in the surrounding area–but city officials have still not explicitly stated how the funds would be allocated. Furthermore, the funding technically has not been approved. Approval of the funds will have to come via public vote by the Charlotte City Council, and the timing of when that vote could take place has not been finalized. More from the Charlotte Observer:
Charlotte City Council members remain tight-lipped on how and when the millions would be distributed.
And the use of hospitality fund money needs to be approved in a public vote, which is unlikely to happen until the new year. Such funding can come from hotel/motel tax revenue as well as taxes on prepared food and beverages.
What’s more, the details of any agreement between Charlotte and Tepper have not been announced yet. It is also unclear which expansion cities, if any, Charlotte used as possible frameworks before pledging its tourism money.
There could be more details after Tuesday’s announcement, which should lead to a clearer sense of when the Charlotte club would launch and any plans that Tepper and city officials have for team facilities. Regardless, the launch of an MLS club should pose significant investments for both parties, with the city eyeing its potential hospitality funds contribution and reports suggesting that Tepper will pay an expansion fee north of $200 million.
Image of Bank of America Stadium courtesy Carolina Panthers.
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