With the clock ticking and the question of stadium funding still up in the air, the group working to bring Major League Soccer to Charlotte is doubling down to generate buzz about its efforts.
Headed by race track executive Marcus Smith, the bidding group MLS4CLT recently engaged the local PR firm, Luquire George Andrews, to create a website, which launched Thursday and aims to educate fans and encourage them to contact local elected officials to support the project.
Nearly half a year has passed since Smith submitted a bid to land Charlotte an MLS team, and the public funding portion of the $175 million stadium project remains unresolved. Experts say a lack of support from the city could weigh on the MLS’s decision about Charlotte.
In a call with the Observer Thursday, Mike Burch, chief strategy officer of MLS4CLT, noted that Charlotte elected officials have said repeatedly they they want to hear from the public before committing millions of taxpayer dollars toward a 20,000-seat stadium on the site of Memorial Stadium and the Grady Cole Center.
“We’re trying to mobilize people and let them know that their voice matters. A lot of people think they can’t affect a city’s policies. But if we’ve learned anything in this new age of communications ... we know individuals have the means to have their opinions be known,” Burch said.
Burch said the reinvigorated marketing effort is also in response to research on what the other 11 bidding cities are doing to generate support. The MLS has said it will announce the two new franchise teams by the end of this year. MLS executives haven’t visited Charlotte yet, but Burch said that could happen by the end of the summer.
MLS4CLT’s new web site invites fans to sign up for updates on Charlotte’s MLS bid. As an incentive to do so, fans will receive a free gift from MLS4CLT.