Major League Soccer would be an exciting economic and cultural boon for Charlotte that would bring a diverse cross-section of Charlotte together in a way no other sport or activity could. However, the current plan to bring MLS to Charlotte has also brought us – a Democrat and a Republican – together in opposition to the project.
While we do not oppose the concept of Major League Soccer in Charlotte, a good plan wouldn’t tie up over $150 million in taxpayer dollars and demolish Memorial Stadium. The plan as it stands would be a betrayal of priorities that both Republicans and Democrats in our city have come together to support. While there is little bi-partisanship in this day and age regarding issues, across our great city we all are united in promoting the great history of our city. We are also united in making prudent financial choices that pay the longest-term benefit for our taxpayer dollars.
For the past two years, political, civic, faith, neighborhood, and non-profit leaders have come together to tackle two of Charlotte’s greatest challenges: economic mobility and public safety. The report of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force listed early care and education as well as college and career readiness as two of the three determinants “most likely to have the greatest influence on the opportunity trajectory of an individual.”
Additionally, the past two years have seen a steady increase in violent crime across our country, including in Charlotte. Our crime rate is beginning to grow and we must act now to address the problem with better training, support for programs like CMPD Chief Kerr Putney’s diversion program, and a greater investment in community policing.
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We must prioritize taxpayer dollars towards the most pressing needs in our community. Unfortunately at this time, MLS does not, and should not, make the cut. The current MLS plan is completely out of touch with our county and city’s priorities.
In recent elections, Democrats and Republicans across the country have come out strongly in support of policies that benefit the middle class. Public education and public safety projects are the key to fixing both economic mobility and crime. These should be our budget priorities.
The proposed MLS plan takes money away from those two needed priorities and transfers it to a project that will bring very little in return.
It is true that the city’s proposed contribution would come out of a limited funding source that could not otherwise be used for city priorities, such as affordable housing or public safety. However, these monies are needed for proven sources of tourism and economic impact, including renovating and growing the Charlotte Convention Center as well as funding the eventual needed investment in the Carolina Panthers.
Finally, both of us agree that Charlotte should do more to preserve its history. Memorial Stadium is an important monument that honors veterans from Mecklenburg County who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
We rarely agree politically, but at the end of the day we’re both Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools graduates who love our city and our county. Our concern for the welfare of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County leads us to oppose this boondoggle.
Spencer is a political consultant who works with Democratic clients, including Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts. Shaheen is a political consultant who works with Republican clients. Their views do not necessarily reflect those of their clients.