Charlotte still hasn't committed to Major League Soccer plan - | WBTV Charlotte

Charlotte still hasn't committed to Major League Soccer plan

(Dedrick Russell/WBTV) (Dedrick Russell/WBTV)
(Dedrick Russell/WBTV) (Dedrick Russell/WBTV)

The city of Charlotte is now talking about Major League Soccer (MLS) coming to the Queen City. The county has decided to put up more than $100 million to fund the project. 

County leaders delayed a vote on the matter until they heard from city leaders.  The county wanted an answer by August 1, but say that will not happen. The city has just begun the vetting process.  

"I think people are looking at city council 'why are you dragging your feet?' and we're not," James Mitchell said, who is the councilman for Charlotte city at-large. "We just want to do first things - first make sure we got the budget passed and now we want to look at MLS Soccer on its true merit."

Mitchell is chairperson of the city's Economic Development Committee. His committee will hear the benefits of a soccer stadium at their meeting July 20. Then in August, a public hearing will be held to get feedback about the city investing $30 million in the soccer stadium. 

"You got to get citizens' input regardless, we are not using taxpayers’ dollars," Mitchell said. "But you live in Charlotte. We want the fans to take ownership of this project."

Mitchell also says the city must find out what opportunities a MLS stadium will offer to Charlotte residents.

"We are going to make sure minority participation is very important on this type of opportunity and our work force development program. Would they hire those who need opportunities on this MLS soccer?" Mitchell said.

MLS leaders say they are not nervous that the city has not committed to a soccer stadium.

"We are as excited now as we have ever been that we are this close to making this happen," Mike Burch said, who is a MLS strategic. 

Burch would not say what will happen if the city decides to pass on soccer.

"We are going to stay focused on the opportunity in front of us," Burch said. "We are not thinking about what might happen down the road."

MLS is doing what they can to convince leaders to bring major league soccer to Charlotte.

"We've been meeting with elected officials," Burch said. "City staff, with corporate leaders in the community, potential sponsors. It only works if we all come together to support this club."

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett says the county decided it was a good deal so whether their vote should not be swayed is what the city decides.

"Either the deal works on its own for us, or it doesn't. Who funds the rest of it shouldn't matter," Puckett said.

Puckett thinks county leaders are hoping the city says yes to soccer to make them feel good about the decision. 

"If the city says no then it clearly points to the fact that it wasn't a smart investment of the public's money," Puckett said. "And that makes people look not so smart on our side."

The city may not make a decision until the end of August or beginning of September.

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