Social media comments appeared to largely back Mecklenburg County commissioners’ 5-3 vote Wednesday to upend a bid for major league soccer in Charlotte.
For months the county had debated a proposal that would have the county invest more than $100 million in a new soccer stadium to be replace county-owned Memorial Stadium. The board voted instead to give Memorial – but nothing more – to the city of Charlotte.
“Guess we can all drive to Raleigh to watch pro soccer,” Observer reader Johnny Woodward commented online. “If we’re even that lucky.”
But other commenters applauded the county’s refusal to invest in a stadium proposal led by the son of Charlotte billionaire Bruton Smith.
“Why spend public money on soccer? Is baseball, football, and basketball not enough? Oh and don’t forget hockey,” Kathy Meeks wrote.
Added Bob Jeffersonian: “This is fine, only one body of politicians to deal with. The real error here is the Smiths’ attempting to jump into a MLS bid, effectively at the last minute.
“As for the city ... use the tax money that is designated for this. But recognize that it is our city council that gave a stadium, revenue stream and improvements over and over to a NBA team. A team where no average person can afford a ticket or concessions. At least not a ticket that doesn't cause nose bleeds.”
The ownership group for the proposed franchise, MLS4CLT, argued that major-league soccer would only build on a sport with firm roots in Charlotte. But the minor-league Charlotte Independence reminded readers that the city already has a pro soccer franchise.
Critics of the MLS bid have said the county’s investment would ignore a number of county parks projects approved in a 2008 bond referendum. Commissioners’ vote Wednesday funded 13 park and greenway projects.