There has been a proposal in Charlotte as of late to bring in a new Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium and team to the city. A decision had to be made quickly as a bid deadline of January 31st was set by the league. The proposal includes a new stadium that would take place of the outdated Memorial Stadium in the Elizabeth neighborhood at the cost of $175 million, the majority of which would be paid by the taxpayers of Mecklenburg County and city of Charlotte.
The benefits of this include replacing a worn-down stadium in reaching distance to Uptown to house a professional team of the most popular sport in the world. The professional sport in growing rapidly in popularity across the nation. It could bring new business, allow for more jobs, and attract more tourism. According to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, it would bring an estimated $41.5 million in new visitor spending each year and new spending would be over $1 billion over 25 years. That allows Charlotte to become more and more recognized as one of the fastest growing cities of Charlotte.
How does this affect the surrounding neighborhood of Elizabeth and outskirts of the Myers Park area? Many are concerned with the fact that hardworking taxpayer dollars will be going towards this rather than towards an already delicate neighborhood. At a public forum, many parents were saying the money should go towards fixing up the schools. Other than schools, there are many community needs that should be placed ahead of building a new soccer stadium. Many are urging for youth recreation, green space, more long-term jobs, and an enhancement of community for the area.
Paul Shipley, of the Elizabeth Community Association, states that after surveying the neighborhood they found 66 percent of residents who responded support the new stadium. However, Mayor Roberts has canceled the meeting to discuss the deal as they feel the city is not prepared to move forward with it quite yet. The council hopes for a future opportunity with more time for discussion.