Power the Pitch: Rally held to push for Major League Soccer in Charlotte

- The Queen City has a chance to show itself off to Major League Soccer.

Charlotte already has the Independence, a lower division soccer team, but Tuesday evening, a group of soccer enthusiasts known as MLS 4 CLT held a rally called "Power the Pitch" to show MLS executives that Charlotte supports the idea of bringing MLS here.

“It brings more culture to the city so I'm for that,” said John Thomas, a Charlotte resident. 

The plan calls for using taxpayer money to help pay for a new MLS stadium on the site of memorial stadium in Charlotte's Elizabeth neighborhood.

“Everybody benefits from things that uplift the city, but with all the needs there are in our community, I am conflicted. I think there's maybe public money could be better spent to benefit a greater number of people,” said Judy Ellis, another resident of Charlotte. 

“It would pay off it would bring jobs and more revenue to the city, so you could take a little slice out of the pie,” Thomas said.

The president and deputy commissioner of MLS, Mark Abbott, said he met with the business and youth soccer communities Tuesday. There were no formal meetings with Charlotte city leaders.

“We received applications from 12 markets across the country interested in becoming one of the next four teams that we would select, and we’re in the process of going through and meeting with the various ownership groups,” Abbott said.

Fox 46 Charlotte’s Robin Kanady asked Marcus Smith, President and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, who is seeking MLS ownership, “How do you make that sell to the taxpayers?”

“I think it’s one of those things that the taxpayers will get a lot more for their money because right now you’ve got a public asset, Memorial Stadium, that’s in a really disrepair situation” Smith said.

Smith further explained, “We’re essentially partnering with the taxpayers by way of the county and the city and giving them double their money.”

Thursday at noon at the Government Center i Uptown Charlotte, the City of Charlotte's Economic Development Committee will have a public meeting to discuss soccer.

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