CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It may have been one of the worst kept secrets in Charlotte, but Tuesday morning it was finally made official. A Major League Soccer team will be coming to the Queen City and the season will start in 2021.
Mayor Vi Lyles told FOX 46 Charlotte the process to get an MLS team to Charlotte started a little more than a year ago. Up until now, the public has been kept out of the loop. Now the mayor, city council and city leaders are looking for public support and they prepare to spend about $110 million on improvements around the city.
As city leaders and fans celebrated Tuesday morning at the Mint Museum, uncertainty remained just blocks away at Bank of America Stadium. Millions of dollars in renovations are needed. If approved by Charlotte City Council, they will be paid for with taxpayer dollars.
"What do you want to do? What does Charlotte want to do? You understand what I am saying? I am not going to force anything. This is a partnership. I keep saying that again and again because I really believe it,” said David Tepper, Panthers and MLS owner.
"Well we haven't given money to David Tepper. What we are doing is we are going to have two designs. We are going to have the development plans for Eastland and the development plans for the entertainment district. That money stays with us until those plans are complete,” said Mayor Lyles.
$110 million is on the table. Some will be used at Eastland Mall for the team headquarters and practice facility. The rest will be used at Bank of America stadium and the area surrounding it. The plan could include an entertainment district from the stadium to Gateway Station.
Even if these plans are approved, David Tepper hinted at a new stadium, as most only last 25 years.
"It's not that the stadium can't last longer, you could probably stretch it out another 10 or so years, at some point it's going to be problematic with the way that thing is constructed,” said Tepper.
"We are very confident they [Charlotte City Council] will come through with their commitments, but we understand it's a political process and work still needs to be done,” said MLS commissioner, Don Garber.
Mayor Vi Lyles tells FOX 46 Charlotte the $110 million will come from the city hospitality tax. There will need to be a public hearing before city council can approve how that money is spent.