Charlotte's mayor does not want to rush through a vote that could make or break the city's bid to get an MLS expansion franchise.
Charlotte investor Marcus Smith would have been happy with the opportunity to put his proposal to a vote, but that didn’t happen.
In late January, the city council opted not to make a decision on a plan that called for Smith—the Charlotte Motor Speedway CEO—to foot half the cost of a $175 million stadium in Elizabeth. The remainder would be split by Mecklenburg County and the city of Charlotte through hotel tax revenue earmarked for tourism projects. The county said ‘yes.’ The city, which spent millions on the Hornets’ arena and on upgrades to the Panthers’ stadium, wasn’t ready to move forward or consider the proposal.
“It’s been so rushed,” Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts told reporters in January. “People feel there are still a lot of unanswered questions. It doesn’t mean we don’t ever want to do soccer. It’s not responsible to the taxpayers when we don’t have all the answers to their questions.”
It’s been quiet since then. Is the Charlotte bid dead? Not quite. SI.com understands that Smith met with MLS executives last month in Atlanta, and that the league is considering a trip to Charlotte in order to meet with city officials, business leaders and media. That indicates interest remains on both sides.
Smith and his partners did not return an email requesting comment.