Heated debate, confusion as Meck commissioners vote to pass MLS decision to City Council

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The question still looms: Is soccer coming to Charlotte? Mecklenburg County commissioners have decided to remove themselves from the debate.

Wednesday evening, the board voted in favor of handing Memorial Stadium's deed over to the City of Charlotte. But not without more than an hour of lively interactions from the dais.

Commissioner Jim Puckett announced the proposal that would offer up the property and nothing else in Charlotte's endeavors to attract Major League Soccer.

Commissioners Pat Cotham and Matthew Ridenhour were immediately in support of the motion.

"I just have a fundamental problem with tax payer funded stadiums," Ridenhour said.

On the other side of the debate was Commissioner Trevor Fuller.

"The conversation has become so absurd that the solution is now to get rid of Memorial Stadium and give it to the city. Not asking if the city wants it. Don't care about that," he said.

Chair Ella Scarborough spoke passionately about the positive effects professional supports have on the community.

"If you're going to be a major city. Be a major city. And major cities have major things. Soccer is one of the major things that need to happen."

But things got confusing when it came time to vote for Puckett's proposal. Hands were raised in favor by Puckett, Cotham, Ridenhour, James, and Scarborough.

The chairwoman's vote took other members by surprise who thought her previous comments meant she was opposed to the proposal.

Fuller stated Puckett's proposal meant the end of Charlotte's chances of getting an MLS team. But others, including Scarborough, disagreed, saying the county was simply handing the effort fully to the city.

The confusion and conversation continued leading to a stern statement from Ridenhour.

"This is shameful. A vote has occurred and now we're splitting hairs about whether a vote has been announced, whether it's not... Some of you knew that the chair was going to vote in this manner prior to this meeting and yet because you're not satisfied with the result of the vote, you're trying to berate our chair over her vote, you're trying to confuse her," he said.

Because the first vote was never officially announced, the board elected to vote again and the same results stood. Five commissioners voting in favor of giving the deed to Memorial Stadium to the city.

There's no word where the city stands on the vote and what the next steps may be.

Also approved in tonight's vote was $49 million for over a dozen park projects. That money was allocated back in a 2008 bond referendum for parks and greenways.

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