Competition for MLS team in NC heating up

Should taxpayers pay $175K for a stadium in Charlotte?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The competition for a major league soccer team in North Carolina is heating up. 

On Wednesday, MLS leaders toured Raleigh as a possible home location, just a day after doing the same in Charlotte.

Now, NBC Charlotte is looking at the factors playing a role in the decision.

A key question is how to pay for the stadium, whether it’s private or public money. Right now, each city has a different answer.

The goal in Raleigh is to get private citizens to pay for construction of the potential soccer stadium. It comes as MLS leaders tour the area, a day after they made the same trip in Charlotte.

Locally, a proposal to spend $175,000 in tax dollars on the facility has met resistance. County Commissioner Pat Cotham opposes spending the money.

“I never have anybody who is out of a job or who needs housing say, 'Oh, please build a soccer stadium for a billionaire,'” says Commissioner Cotham.

On Tuesday, MLS President Mark Abbott implied that if no stadium is going to happen, then the league will definitely go elsewhere. NBC Charlotte asked him why he thought both city and county leaders canceled meetings on the issue after concerns about holding the meetings in private.

“That’s the decision they have to make. We were asked to come here to learn about Charlotte and they're interested in major league soccer and we’ve had a very productive day an opportunity to do that,” says Abbott.

Charlotte area leaders are looking at Memorial Stadium as the location. In Raleigh, they’re proposing the facility be built on state-owned land in the downtown area. It’s expected to create $1.5 billion in economic stimulus over 17 years, according to an impact survey by North Carolina FC.

The study predicted that professional soccer could add nearly 2,000 jobs in North Carolina. However, it’s still unclear where pro-soccer will land.

Abbott says he hopes to meet with Charlotte area leaders at a later date.

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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