There are a lot of questions about the Major League Soccer bid in Charlotte, and sadly our local press isn't covering it fairly. Here are some of the common questions that we can answer about MLS.
IS THE CHARLOTTE MLS BID STILL ALIVE?
Not only is the bid still alive, the demand is growing, locally and nationally. As long as there are soccer fans in Charlotte there will be a demand for Charlotte to have MLS. The Queen's Firm is working with the bid group, city and county leaders, and the soccer community to help formulate a plan that will be beneficial for our citizens and community.
WHY DO YOU WANT MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER IN CHARLOTTE?
We love soccer. We love Charlotte. There are a lot of things that make this exciting for the area.
- It’s time - There has not been a new major league sport added to Charlotte for a generation. The Hornets were the first major league sport, added in the 80s. The Panthers came here in the mid-‘90s. We have the community and diversity that can easily support soccer.
- It’s unifying - Charlotte is fast growing – city projections show Charlotte adding 400,000 people by 2040 (that’s adding a city the size of Minneapolis or Raleigh). All the newcomers often have old allegiances to NFL or NBA teams, but with soccer, the team will belong to all of us from the start.
- It fits with being an international commerce center – As a major financial center and a busy hub for manufacturing, fintech, and energy, we attract visitors, businesses, and residents from all over the world. Soccer is the world game and an increasing number of Charlotteans desire soccer.
- It draws support from a broad region of soccer fans – Charlotte is a large city and metro area, but we are also within a reasonable driving distance for fans from multiple midsize cities including Greenville/Spartanburg, Columbia, Winston-Salem, and Asheville. If you were to add all those people we would be a top 10 or top 15 city by population.
- It will draw visitors and tourism dollars to Charlotte – Soccer fans travel. In the US, opposing fans are typically treated well, and welcomed to tailgates and other pregame activities – before kickoff. Charlotte will definitely see a boost in tourism revenue from regular season games, as well as cup games, exhibitions, and playoffs.
WHY DOES THE BID NEED TAXPAYER FUNDS FOR A STADIUM?
That’s how stadiums get built. In the MLS, 19 of 22 stadiums had some amount of public money to build their stadium, and the average amount is 44.6% (citation from DC United study) (citation from Vrooman paper). Charlotte has contributed public dollars to all the stadia, including construction of the Spectrum Center and BB&T Ballpark, as well as the $175M upgrades to Bank of America Stadium. The funds used come from tourism dollars generated by visitors, not residents – hotel taxes, rental car fees, etc, and can only be used for areas that promote visitors and tourism. Tourism taxes helped fund the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and the NBA All-Star Game in 2019. A public-private partnership that funds the stadium will continue to create events that will generate tax revenue in other sectors of our economy.
SHOULDN'T WE ADDRESS CIVIC ISSUES INSTEAD OF SOCCER?
Charlotte’s civic issues are important. We don’t view soccer as being in conflict with addressing Charlotte’s city issues such as jobs, housing, and law enforcement. In fact, we think bringing MLS to Charlotte will improve our economy and our sense of togetherness. Our effort to bring MLS to Charlotte is largely influenced by economic issues that our neighbors face. Bringing MLS will help employ one of our larger employment sectors during the summer - Hospitality. One in nine of our citizens works in the Hospitality industry according to the Charlotte Regional Visitor's Authority (CRVA).
Even more so, having MLS in Charlotte will attract business that will address upward economic mobility. The Charlotte Regional Partnership (CRP) shows that there are 200 German firms with 59 U.S. headquarters located in our area. These are high tech manufacturing jobs with global companies in our region. Having MLS would help us continue to attract these companies as soccer is massively popular in Germany.
We are currently pursuing Amazon's 2nd Headquarters, and adding MLS could be a benefit to those efforts. Employees that may have to relocate would be able to watch their Seattle Sounders as we cheer on our club. MLS adds an attractive benefit for Amazon to consider our community for their business because it keeps those top employees and adds tax revenue for our city.
SO HOW MUCH REVENUE CAN BE GENERATED?
During January 24, 2017, Mecklenburg County Commissioners Public Comment Meeting, the CRVA stated that MLS would generate $41.5 million a year in direct visitor spending and $70.5 million a year in overall economic impact. MLS would create jobs and have a one time impact of $300 million would happen during construction. These estimates are in line with economic estimates made by similar-sized cities bidding for an MLS team and are far more conservative than those claimed by other MLS bid cities that are far smaller than Charlotte. These CRVA estimates were done using the same model that was used for BB&T Ballpark.