North Carolina lawmakers are not embracing spending money for a Charlotte soccer stadium.
There doesn’t appear to be much of an appetite for a Major League Soccer expansion team in Charlotte. The area’s chances of getting an MLS team took a hit last week when Mecklenburg County Commissioners decided to pull funding to help build a soccer stadium. The proposal is not dead yet, the Commissioners could restore the money in the county’s final budget for 2017-2018. The Commissioners seem unwilling to contribute millions of dollars for a soccer venue. Charlotte would also have to kick in some funding. A total of $44 million of public funding would have been earmarked for a stadium to house Marcus Smith’s team. Smith plans to spend $132 million on the stadium.
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 may finally have 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 MLS owners who want a team.
MLS expansion is proving tougher than first anticipated