It has not been smooth sailing for MLS Commissioner Don Garber and his owners in expanding the league.
Charlotte-area politicians are still attempting to figure out if they have any
appetite to help fund a stadium for a Major League Soccer expansion team in Charlotte. This is not just one government voting on the expenditure. Mecklenburg County and Charlotte elected officials have to decide what to do. A county commissioners vote on whether to put up money is scheduled for August 2. Charlotte elected officials are willing to put up $30 million down from nearly $44 million. Having two bodies handing out money or not handing out money is a significant problem. The potential MLS Charlotte franchise owner Marcus Smith plans to spend money on the stadium as well. Smith’s biggest problem is that the county commissions and Charlotte elected officials are not coming up with a money solution.
The MLS wants to expand but it is finding that getting public money for stadiums is very difficult. St. Louis voters said no in an April vote. St. Petersburg voters said yes to a proposal to renovate Al Lang Stadium through a lease deal as long as the owner of the proposed MLS expansion team paid for the revamping of the facility. San Diego’s expansion bid appears to be in trouble as San Diego State University has pulled out of a partnership to build a stadium with local soccer backers and political leaders seem to be lukewarm in supporting the MLS expansion group. Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Raleigh, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa Bay were on the MLS’s expansion list. Major League Soccer granted David Beckham a Miami expansion franchise in 2014 but Beckham’s group has had difficulty finding a suitable spot for a stadium. Beckham thinks he has a stadium site. The league could hand out two expansion teams soon. The MLS is still a money loser, but there is no shortage of potential owners who want a team.
Getting public funding for soccer stadiums is getting difficult.