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North Carolina FC's MLS bid gets boost as Charlotte pulls funding vote

Posted January 26

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— The odds of North Carolina FC gaining a Major League Soccer franchise went up a little bit Thursday when the City of Charlotte pulled their vote which would have provided money towards a new stadium.

The bid for a MLS team in Charlotte, one of 10 finalist markets as the league expands to 26 clubs later in 2017 and 28 beyond, is not completely dead, but funding appears to be an issue. The Mecklenburg County Commissioners have approved $43.75 million in spending towards a new stadium, but the city council has cancelled their Friday meeting that was set to feature a vote on their $43.75 million subsidy of the project.

According to the Charlotte Observer, that is a major blow to the new stadium that was expected replace the old Memorial Stadium near downtown at an estimated cost of $175 million.

“It could bode well (for North Carolina FC) if the Charlotte bid encountered some rocky waters in the next day or two,” said WRALSportsFan.com soccer writer Neil Morris Thursday while joining the Sports Shop on Buzz Sports Radio.

Marcus Smith of Speedway Motorsports based in Charlotte are spearheading the effort to bring MLS to the Queen City. They have until Jan. 31 to complete their bid, but will now have to do so without city funds.

“The biggest amount of rancor and opposition has been how this has been rushed and force fed,” Morris said. “This proposal came down in a matter of weeks. It’s mainly the amount of money and how it’s been rushed.”

North Carolina FC joins Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa-St. Petersburg as possible expansion sites for the MLS.

“There is some line of thought that MLS would want one of its expansion teams to be in the mid-Atlantic, Carolina-Tennessee line because they want to fill out their Southeast footprint which is currently pretty sparse,” Morris said. “And they want to have a geographic link between their Washington D.C and their new Atlanta market.”

Morris added that Nashville does not appear be in play for the next wave of expansion due to lack of a stadium deal.

North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik recently acquired a professional women’s team, the Courage, which will begin play in 2017. He has also said that he is seeking a new stadium that would entice the MLS.

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