Tom Sorensen

Why should Mecklenburg County give millions to Marcus Smith for soccer? 2 great reasons

Why should Mecklenburg County give millions to Marcus Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports, for a stadium to hold a Major League Soccer expansion franchise he would own? Because it can’t give the money to schools or roads.
Why should Mecklenburg County give millions to Marcus Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports, for a stadium to hold a Major League Soccer expansion franchise he would own? Because it can’t give the money to schools or roads. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Marcus Smith, president of Speedway Motorsports Inc., says he applied Tuesday for a Major League Soccer franchise. The application was due by 5 p.m.

Mecklenburg County has agreed to help Smith build the stadium. The Charlotte City Council has not.

I’ve written about this before, but I like the idea of a team and new stadium on the cusp of Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood, and I like the idea of Smith owning it. Some readers complain that Charlotte’s schools can use the money much more than Smith can. That’s true.

But the hotel/motel taxes the city will invest can’t be used for schools or teachers. The money is earmarked for tourism, which is why hotels and motels agreed assess their guests with a surcharge.

We love to become properly indignant in situations such as these and often have a contest to see who can complain the loudest.

But where would Charlotte be without Bank of America Stadium, Spectrum Arena and BB&T BallPark? Our NFL, NBA and Class AAA baseball teams wouldn’t be here. We’d be a lesser city.

If we add the MLS, we’ll be stronger.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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