Some Charlotte Officials Want Prospective MLS Groups To Look At Alternative Venue Sites
Some Charlotte City Council members "want the city to consider building" an MLS stadium at the site of an abandoned mall "rather than at Memorial Stadium," according to a front-page piece by Harrison & Portillo of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Under a proposal discussed by Mecklenburg County commissioners last week, the city and county "would each spend" $50M toward building a new stadium. The local ownership group of SMI's Bruton and Marcus Smith "would also spend" $50M for the Memorial Stadium project. But some on the council "want a closer look" at Eastland Mall, which the city has been "trying to redevelop unsuccessfully for nearly five years." Council member John Autry, whose last day was Monday, said, "Does it make more sense doing it there than tearing down Memorial Stadium, which is a historic landmark, when we have 72 acres sitting at the end of Central Avenue?” Charlotte Center City Partners President & CEO Michael Smith, whose group is looking to bring MLS to Charlotte, said that an analysis of different sites "concluded Memorial Stadium would be the best for a new soccer stadium." That is in "large part because the stadium would be ... near hotels, restaurants and other businesses that would benefit from and serve soccer fans" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/11). In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg notes if city government ends up helping build a stadium, council member James Mitchell is expected to "be a big part of the conversation." Mitchell "helped round up votes and negotiate" the deal to use $87.5M in city money for Bank of America Stadium renovations. Mitchell said of the city pitching in, "The county's in the driver's seat because they own the land. I think for us the first crucial criteria is January 31st and getting a site (for the local bid)" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/11).