Garber: MLS In "Very, Very Advanced Talks" For Charlotte Team
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said the league is in "very, very advanced discussions" with NFL Panthers Owner David Tepper and his group to bring an MLS club to Charlotte. Speaking Thursday after the league's BOG meetings in N.Y., Garber said while no formal approval was granted, the board "authorized the MLS Expansion Committee to enter into what I expect to be final negotiations." He said the remaining issues with Charlotte surround Bank of America Stadium and keeping it up to the same standards the league has for its other venues. Issues include ensuring there is a proper supporters section, having the right tunnels/locker rooms and the club producing a plan to manage the size of the stadium should it not draw 70,000 fans per game. Garber said that the best case scenario for the league's 30th team to begin play would be '21, when Austin FC also is slated to join MLS. Multiple reports have indicated the expansion fee could be anywhere from $300-$325M. Garber declined to comment on the specific number, but did say, "I've heard some of those numbers, and they wouldn't be wrong" (Mark J. Burns, THE DAILY). In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg noted Tepper is expected to invest more than $400M overall in "startup costs" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/5).
SORTING THINGS OUT: In Charlotte, Smoot & Kuznitz in a front-page piece note determining "how much public money would be used to fix the stadium issues also has yet to be sorted out." The Charlotte City Council has "not released how much it might pay for stadium renovations or other expansion-related costs." Panthers President Tom Glick, following a meeting with MLS and its BOG on Thursday, said, "We've had a very good day today. We're convinced (the bid) will be successful" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/6). Charlotte-based WBTV-CBS' David Hodges cited sources as saying that the City Council "wouldn't vote on the renovation package" at Monday night's meeting, but they "plan to in the very near future" (WBTV.com, 12/5).
ANNOUNCEMENT PLANS STILL TO COME: The CHARLOTTE AGENDA's Katie Peralta noted some have reported that there was a "request from MLS officials to shut down South Tryon Street" in uptown Charlotte on Dec. 16-17. But the City Council "wasn't looped in on that plan, if it was even real." It still is "unclear whether it'll happen or not" (CHARLOTTEAGENDA.com, 12/5).