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City Council committee backs e-sports and concert venue for Eastland mall site

City Council member Malcolm Graham voted in favor of a proposal to bring an e-sports hub and concert venue to the old Ea
City of Charlotte
City Council member Malcolm Graham voted in favor of a proposal to bring an e-sports hub and concert venue to the old Eastland Mall site.

The Charlotte City Council’s economic development committee voted Monday to recommend that an e-sports and concert venue be built on 30 acres of the former Eastland Mall site that remain undeveloped.

For most of the summer, council members have been divided over whether to support the QC East proposal that includes e-sports, or a different plan that would build an indoor amateur sports complex.

But at Monday’s meeting, Tim Sittema of Crosland Southeast — who is developing most of the Eastland site — said he narrowly preferred the QC East proposal, in part because it seems the most financially viable.

That pushed the committee to back QC East in a 3-1 vote.

Malcolm Graham, Ed Driggs and Marjorie Molina voted yes, while Dimple Ajmera voted no. Victoria Watlington didn’t attend the meeting.

Ajmera said she’s worried about noise from the concert venue, and its impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.

“Yes, financially (QC East) makes sense,” she said. “But this is more than transactional. As I said, I think quality-of-life issues need to be addressed. And those are very important if you are living literally a block from there, or less.”

The decision has been one of the council's most contentious, with many eastside residents preferring the indoor sports proposal. City Council has gone through several other proposals as well, eliminating possibilities such as an aquatics center and a Target. Some neighborhood leaders have said they are worried about noise from the outdoor venue, which could draw as many as 5,000 spectators.

City of Charlotte staff in July recommended an esports, concert venue and outdoor soccer complex for a nearly 30-acre site at the old Eastland Mall. But a number of City Council members pushed back against that recommendation — in unusually strong terms.

Graham, who chairs the committee, said uptown residents also deal with noise and traffic from sports and concerts. He said that the community is understandably involved but “in some cases too involved. Everyone’s picking sides, council members are involved. It’s challenging the expertise of our staff who has done an amazing job.”

The full City Council will vote on the proposals, possibly later this month.

Council member Tariq Bokhari is a minority investor in the company that would bring the e-sports venue to the site. The city has said it would not be a conflict of interest because the e-sports company would just lease space at the development.

Earlier in the meeting, Sittema said underground utility work and grading has started on the main part of the Eastland site, which Crosland is developing with apartments, houses, shops and offices.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.