CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said Thursday she has questions about using public money to build a soccer stadium as part of the deal to being a major league soccer team to Charlotte.
“I think there are a lot of questions still and I think the amount of public money is an issue,” said Roberts in remarks she made during a City Council committee meeting at the Government Center.
The Council Economic Development Committee was meeting to discuss the soccer team and a new stadium that would be built on the site of Memorial Stadium in Elizabeth at a total cost estimated at $175 million.
The mayor began her remarks referencing meetings with MLS officials earlier this week that were canceled because of concerns about holding them behind closed doors.
“I am really glad we are having this discussion in public,” said Roberts.
Marcus Smith, who would be the owner if the league approves a Charlotte team, said there are already 57,000 families in the Charlotte area who are involved in soccer in some way.
“This is the opportunity I think with MLS in bringing a new MLS stadium to Charlotte and take the next step in our city’s growth,” Smith said.
But Council member Julie Eiselt said, in her words, that she was “hung up” on the stadium and paying for it. "Every city is grappling now with this. Does public money make sense to be used to build a stadium?”
Smith countered saying public-private partnerships are the way to create venues for the arts, entertainment, as well as sports.
The committee will meet again in August to hear more details about financing the stadium and will likely take a vote at that meeting.