Soccer

Mecklenberg County cuts support for MLS stadium in Charlotte, giving Raleigh an advantage

Posted August 3

— The City of Raleigh and North Carolina FC appear to have an advantage in the campaign to land a Major League Soccer franchise after Mecklenberg County on Wednesday voted 5-3 to limit what the public would pay towards Charlotte's bid.

Charlotte-area media reported the vote as a blow to Charlotte's hope to win one of two planned MLS expansion teams.

Last month, MLS leaders toured sites in both Charlotte and Raleigh. They are considering a dozen bids for the two teams and are expected to make a decision later this year.

The county vote is the second time in a year that the Charlotte bid saw a lack of support for public funding, a potential signal to MLS that the area is not ready to buy in on pro soccer. Charlotte City Council in January passed on an opportunity to vote in favor of funding a downtown stadium.

At that time, WRALSportsFan.com soccer writer Neil Morris said any hesitation on the part of Charlotte serves as a boost to the Raleigh bid.

In unveiling his plan for a multi-purpose stadium complex immediately north of the downtown Raleigh core, NC FC owner Steve Malik said he had not asked for public money ... yet.

His plan doesn't preclude tapping into Raleigh’s occupancy and prepared food and beverage taxes already earmarked for downtown development, he said.

"Community support, and being able to go through a process where you listen to your constituents and mold your final proposal for what’s best for the community, a number of things could happen," Malik said. "One of the things I’ve mentioned is infrastructure, parking and transportation. It’s dual use, particularly when you’re talking about a facility that’s going to have office space, ground-floor retail and living units in it, as planned.”

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