Ownership Group Says MLS Bid Is Still On
The ownership group that wants to bring Major League Soccer to Charlotte says it will submit a bid by the league's deadline Tuesday. That's despite the city council's decision last week not to vote on helping to pay for a new $175 million stadium near uptown.
Mike Burch of Speedway Motorsports told reporters at Concord Motor Speedway Monday there's time after the bid is submitted to work out a stadium deal with the city.
“You know, after last week, the city council asked for more time to examine the opportunity, and we talked to the city officials, county officials, and MLS officials and just feel it makes sense to continue those discussions and see where we end up on it,” Burch said.
The deal on the table is the same one the city council tabled and the Mecklenburg County Commission approved last week.
[Mayor Jennifer Roberts said Tuesday night the city is still open to discussing a deal.]
It calls for the city and county to pay $44 million each toward the stadium. The Smith family, which owns Speedway Motor Sports, would pay $88 million.
“We've always looked at this as a public private partnership, so we are going to move forward as proposed and ask them to look at that and answer the questions they have. This is the deal as it stands right now,” Burch said.
Burch said the group isn't currently considering a bid without the city's participation. The city money would come from tourism taxes, which must be spent on tourism-related items.
Monday's press conference came after the ownership group's leader, Speedway Motor Sports CEO Marcus Smith, sent a tweet saying the bid was still on.
Applying tomorrow! #MLS4CLT City has time to consider investment of existing tourism $ in project. County/Team would match city $3:$1 Smart!— Marcus Smith (@MarcusSMI) January 30, 2017
Charlotte is one of 12 cities now vying for two expansion franchises to be awarded later this year.
Jan. 31, 2017, Guardian.com, "MLS expansion: Why cities are deciding stadiums are ‘welfare for millionaires’"