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MLS Expansion: How Cities Are Responding

8 Feb, 2017


It didn't take long for the on-again, off-again proposal for public funding of a St. Louis soccer stadium to be resuscitated, according to an article in Soccer America Daily. The article notes:

An hour after a proposal was voted down, a new, watered-down deal passed -- barely -- before the Ways and Means Committee. That doesn't mean there's clear sailing. The city's aldermen still need to meet and agree to refer the plan to city voters for an April referendum.

Three tax proposals were before the Ways and Means Committee. One to present a MetroLink expansion sales tax proposal to the city aldermen passed 5-1. A second plan to fund renovations to the Scottrade Center was tabled for a second time. The soccer stadium proposal first went down 6-2 only to pass 5-4 on a second vote.

The city's contribution to the $155 million stadium project is $60 million. What changed was SC STL agreed to increase an entertainment tax on ticket sales by 2.5 percent, estimated to generated as much as an extra $12 million for the city.

CHARLOTTE. There was also good news and bad news on the Charlotte expansion front. Mecklenburg County Commissioners voted, 5-3, in favor of a public-private stadium plan, but the Charlotte City Council, the other public partner, canceled plans for a vote on Friday.

"Over the past several days, we have been discussing this opportunity," the city council said in a statement, "and while this is very promising, it is clear that we are not prepared to move forward at this time on the current soccer proposal."

Its concerns: the price tag -- half of the $175 million coming from the two public entities -- and urgency of the vote, triggered by MLS's Jan. 31 deadline for receipt of expansion proposals.

Speedway Motorsports owner Bruton Smith and his son, Marcus, have been working with Charlotte and Mecklenburg County on the project.

TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG. St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman met with MLS commissioner Don Garber on Thursday at league offices in New York to make the case for the bid organized by Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Kriseman emphasized St. Petersburg’s demographics and strong media market.

It also reported Kriseman was in New York to meet with Major League Baseball on the status of the Rays' stadium.

The 10 other markets the league identified as interested in securing an MLS expansion team: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Four expansion teams will be selected, the first two in the second half of 2017.

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