Competing cities at various stages in bid for MLS teams

Competing cities at various stages in bid for MLS teams

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As Mecklenburg County and Charlotte city leaders prepare for votes on a Major League Soccer stadium, they are both ahead of and behind some of the other cities vying for teams.

The MLS has set a Jan. 31 deadline for cities to submit bids. Charlotte is one of about 10 in talks to seek a team, according to MLS officials.

Sacramento has had a solid plan in place for months. MLS commissioner Don Garber told the group it was "ahead of the pack" during an April 2016 visit, according to CBS Sacramento.

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On the flip side, the St. Louis group which rolled out a proposal for a stadium in November appears to be losing steam.

Talks have all but stalled over plans which would include $60 million in public money for a stadium. The issue is in committee on the city's Board of Aldermen. Officials have been trying to get the issue on an April 4 ballot.

"It's not looking particularly positive right now to get it on the ballot," said Tony Messenger, a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

While the appetite for soccer in St. Louis is high, Messenger said taxpayers are skeptical of publicly-funded stadiums.

Also unlike Charlotte, the county is not playing a role in the St. Louis negotiations.

"The county is not a part of the conversations and that is a common theme in the city of St. Louis," said Messenger.

Investors from a San Diego group released renderings Monday. That plan would not involve public money. Instead, plan leaders would revamp the Qualcomm Stadium site to be a joint-use stadium for an MLS team and San Diego State University.

MLS stadiums mostly funded through public-private partnerships

Cities have taken different approaches in paying for stadiums as Major League Soccer expands across the country.

Orlando will celebrate the 2017 season in its new $115 million stadium in March. The owner asked city leaders for $30 million but ultimately paid the full cost.

D.C. United is preparing to move into a $300 million stadium in 2018, funded through public-private partnership.

The city is paying $150 million for land and costs associated with for infrastructure upgrades. The money is coming from its capital fund.

Eyewitness News looked at financing for all MLS stadiums. So far, 11 are public-private partnerships, four are privately funded and one is publicly funded.

MLS officials said all of the venues host more than soccer games. Many of them host other entertainment acts, including concerts, and partner with schools and other sports organizations.

At Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire, in Bridgeview, Illinois, a local official told Channel 9 that they have to book other events to cover costs.

The stadium is 100 percent funded through the village of Bridgeview, which financed a bond and raised property taxes to pay for it.

Local news reports show it has lost $3-4 million some years. City officials love the team and said the situation is improving.

In other cities, such as Orlando, the picture is brighter. The team averages 30,000 fans a game and their stadium didn't cost taxpayers.

Major League Soccer reported record-breaking growth in 2016. They averaged more than 21,000 people at each game.