Charlotte faced with new options for Major League Soccer

Charlotte faced with new options for Major League Soccer

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The future of Major League Soccer in Charlotte appears to be up to city leaders - at least for now.

Mecklenburg County voted Tuesday night to wash their hands of the project. They approved giving Memorial Stadium to the City of Charlotte  and let council members make the MLS decision.

Such a proposition means that Charlotte would have to pony up tens of millions of dollars to lure and land a MLS franchise. However, council member James Mitchell, who heads up the city's Economic Development Committee, says the latest theatrics slow things down.

"This is a new deal, and I'm not too sure that the city is ready to move that fast," Mitchell said.

Mark Packer of Sirius XM radio recalls the local landscape during the formative years of the Hornets and Panthers. He feels our city has outgrown the novelty.

"When we first got our first taste of pro sports it was exciting," Packer said. "I think the older you get in this market, you start to prioritize. Do you need professional soccer to say that Charlotte is a great place?"

Commissioner Jim Puckett has been a skeptic of the sport. He says giving council members the keys to the stadium appears to be the best fit.

"We are putting it in the hands of the people who are in a better position to best utilize the asset," Puckett said.

Pro soccer in the short term may be on life support, according to Mitchell.

"The big question is - who's gonna fill in the gap for the funding?" Mitchell said.

Mecklenburg County's latest move had changed Charlotte City Council's timetable. The issue was next scheduled for a conversation on August 17.

A new meeting has been scheduled for September 14.

The group MLS 4 CLT sent a statement on the matter Thursday afternoon.

We are not giving up on bringing Major League Soccer to Charlotte. To win an expansion team, we need a strong public-private partnership that works for all sides now and in the future. We want to work together with local leaders to seize this unique opportunity that will benefit our community for decades to come. We will keep working hard to make this happen as long as there is engagement on the public side.

Copyright 2017 WBTV. All rights reserved.