Charlotte mayor commits $110 million to help lure MLS team

In a letter sent to MLS commissioner Don Garber on Nov. 21 and published on Wednesday, Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles committed $110 million from tourism-generated funds as part of a package to bring an MLS team to Charlotte.

On Dec. 5, MLS's board of governors agreed to authorize the league's expansion committee to enter into negotiations with Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper to bring a team to Charlotte.

City council approval of the Lyles commitment is still needed, but an expansion announcement is likely before the end of the year.

Update: Charlotte plans an event for Tuesday at the Mint Museum at which the MLS ceremony is expected to be held.

Tepper's plan is to follow the Atlanta United model and operate an MLS team out of a large NFL stadium, 75,000-seat Bank of America Stadium. Work is necessary, though, to make Bank of America Stadium optimally suitable for soccer.

The mayor’s letter included a commitment to work with Tepper on the renovations to Bank of America Stadium and the construction of team headquarters and practice facilities at the city-owned Eastland Mall site.

“The addition of Major League Soccer will significantly contribute to the energy of Charlotte’s professional sports stage,” Lyles wrote, “as well as cement a long-term relationship between Charlotte and MLS for many, many years to come. We have a wonderful, collaborative relationship with Tepper Sports and are aligned on our long-term goals and unified in our vision."

7 comments about "Charlotte mayor commits $110 million to help lure MLS team".
  1. Mike Lynch, December 12, 2019 at 6:55 a.m.

    Let us hope the mayor and the CLT City Council follow thru. Recent history points to a less visionary and less honest local politic when it comes to business and sport. 

  2. Chris Wasdyke, December 12, 2019 at 10:30 a.m.

    And yet Detroit was ruled out for wanting to use Ford Field.  What a joke.

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, December 12, 2019 at 10:47 a.m.

    The Detroit bid didn't have local government backing. Apples and oranges. Look at the problems in Miami. That difference is why the mayor sent his personal commitment in writing to MLS.

  4. Chris Wasdyke replied, December 12, 2019 at 1:30 p.m.

    Don garber explicitly stated using Ford Field cost the Detroit bid.  It has nothing to do with government backing.  

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, December 12, 2019 at 6:35 p.m.

    Ford Field was Plan B. Plan A was to build a soccer specific stadium, but the local government wouldn't change their land use plans.

  6. Bob Ashpole, December 12, 2019 at 10:44 a.m.

    Multiuse stadiums make economic sense. Soccer specific stadiums don't make economic sense. In MLS today it is easy to understand "soccer-specific" to mean "small". There are business advantages to having a smaller stadium for teams as 20,000 in a small stadium gives fans (both in person and via TV) a much different persepective than 20,000 in a 100,000 person stadium.

    MLS wants to grow and compete with NFL and MLB. That means not only winning fans, but winning investors too. It also means entering local markets with NFL and MLB teams. 

    It wasn't that long ago when there was no broadcast market for MLS. That is where the big growth potential lies. Charlotte is the 23rd largest market in the country. Compare the present list of MLS clubs to this list. (LA and NYC are such huge markets that there are marketing advantages to having 2 clubs in those markets. Think Manchester derbies.)


  7. R2 Dad, December 16, 2019 at 8:28 p.m.

    Cities throwing huge sums of money to land a team seem to do so with little hope of realizing good value for their money. Here are team valuations from a few leagues for comparison:
    La Liga:
    Ligue 1:
    Throwing around these huge sums for MLS teams would seem to fly in the face of any kind of logical value proposition.
    But then, look at NFL teams value vs income. Because of rich TV deals, the valuations are through the roof:
    I understand that MLS was built on an NFL model, but no one is going to watch NFL division 2 games like they are for USL (though attendance numbers are still pitifully small).
    Q: Does Don Gaber just add another 15 teams, just because he can? Where is the line, and why?

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