Bid submitted to bring Major League Soccer team to Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The CEO of Speedway Motorsports formally submitted a bid Tuesday to Major League Soccer officials, which includes a proposal to build a new stadium, despite not having the city's support.

(Rendering for Charlotte stadium)

Marcus Smith, of Charlotte Motor Speedway, submitted the bid and said the city will have more time to consider taking on the project.

There hasn't been a change to the MLS deadline and on Tuesday, cities across the country had to apply to be in the running for an MLS expansion team.

Mike Burch, chief strategy officer for Speedway Motorsports, said the talks with the city were encouraging enough that Smith would submit a bid even without the city's backing yet.

MLS told Smith to submit a bid with as much information as possible, according to Burch.

“Every day that goes by, everybody else is trying to win a bid, so the sooner we can get everything in line with our bid, that helps our chances to win this,” Burch said.

The plan calls for demolishing Memorial Stadium and replacing it with an MLS stadium. The project is expected to cost around $175 million. Last week, the county approved $43.75 million for the proposal.

A big task during the next couple of weeks will be educating the public about the funding for the project. Smith is asking for nearly $44 million from Charlotte. The funds come from taxes generated through rental cars and hotels, which have to be used for tourism purposes.

There is no deadline for city leaders to meet, but no votes are scheduled at this time.

“We’re focused on giving them more time and I think we can come to something that works for everybody,” Burch said.

The sooner the talks happen, the better, and if Charlotte doesn't get a team this time, there may never be an MLS team in the Queen City, officials said. There are 12 cities submitting bids for expansion, Burch said.

Councilmember Claire Fallon told Channel 9 Monday she is in favor of bringing MLS up for debate.

“Should it be discussed? Yes,” she said. “This came to us as a big surprise. But that doesn’t mean I am going to support it.”

Ownership groups also made bids in these cities:

  • Cincinnati
  • Detroit
  • Indianapolis
  • Nashville
  • Phoenix
  • Raleigh/Durham
  • Sacramento
  • St. Louis
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • Tampa/St. Petersburg

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