Charlotte Independence Making A Move To Matthews
The bid to bring Major League Soccer to Charlotte has tripped up plans by the city's existing pro soccer team to play at a renovated Memorial Stadium near uptown. So the Charlotte Independence have come up with a plan B for now - a move to Matthews Sportsplex.
The Independence compete in the United Soccer League, in the second level of U.S. pro soccer. They had been playing in a temporary stadium erected at Ramblewood Soccer complex off Nations Ford Road. But they had their eyes on something bigger and more permanent.
The team had worked out a $24 million deal with the county and the city to renovate Memorial Stadium. The city, county and team would have put in $8 million each.
"It was teed up and ready to go,” said chief revenue officer Wade Leaphart.
Then a group led by Marcus Smith of Speedway Motorsports cut a separate deal with the county to replace Memorial Stadium, as part of its bid to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to town.
That cut the Independence out of the picture and forced a plan B.
“Now that the Matthews Sportsplex is set to be finished here in June, we’re excited to make the move over there and call it home for a bit,” Leaphart said.
The sportsplex is a new $32 million dollar complex with a 2,700-seat soccer stadium, which the team will upgrade to 5,000 seats over the next year.
Leaphart says the Matthews stadium will be an improvement when it comes accessibility, parking, restrooms and other features, like a high-definition video board.
And if the MLS bid fails, the Independence will try to revive their plans for a move to Memorial Stadium.
“Hopefully this current MLS bid just blows over and we can get back to work on the original plan,” Leaphart said.
Feb. 1, 2017, CharlotteIndependence.com, “Independence Moving to Matthews” - Details on the move to Matthews, including information for season ticket holders and fans.
Jan. 25, 2016, Charlotte Observer, “Charlotte Independence president feels ‘run over’ by Marcus Smith’s soccer league bid”