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      WARNING!   07/26/16

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tozmervo

MLS in Charlotte?

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PizzaHutPark.jpg

I'd be happy if they renovated it to something like this^.

Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, TX. I wouldn't be OK with taking a brutal name like that though. It'd be nice to keep it Memorial Stadium.

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While I am not really a soccer fan in the least, the idea of Charlotte getting another major league sports franchise is appealing. In addition to MLS and MLL, Charlotte could host the FCS, Div II and Div III championship games; as well as occasionally hosting the MLL/NCAA Lacrosse/Soccer, championship, Shrine Bowl, rugby tournament or a concert in a renovated Memorial Stadium. If done properly, the stadium may even make a good venue for track and field portions of the Pan Am games if the city would ever go after such an event.

As far as renovations, here is what I'd like to see:

-Lower level (the historical portion) of the stadium preserved to the extent possible and expanded to complete the bowl.

-Upper level to be rebuilt (if structurally deficient) and expanded to make a full horseshoe leaving the west end open for skyline views.

-Bleachers removed and replaced with stadium seating.

-New press boxes and suites added.

-Brick or stone enclosures for the concourses to make the outside of the stadium visually appealing.

-A large jumbo tron and scoreboard on the east end.

-Grady Cole center torn down and rebuilt to fit into the overall site design.

-A veterans memorial plaza in between the Stadium and the rebuilt Grady Cole center complete with reflecting pool, flags,etc... and names of all North and South Carolina veterans that have died in all wars since the Revolutionary War. This would be in keeping with the American Legion/VFW tradition of the stadium.

-A connection to the Sugar Creek greenway.

That would be a 40+ million dollar project. Can't imagine that going over well with the citizens of Charlotte.

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^On a lighter note, Memorial Stadium is already connected to Little Sugar Creek Greenway. There is a rather new shared-use path running along the northeast side of the Stadium. And that path leads directly to an underpass beneath Kings Drive and the Greenway. Now, if only another old underpass beneath Charlottetowne Avenue could be rehabbed, then the Stadium would also be connected to Independence Park.

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It may be a battle between two or three metros in the state. The Triangle has been talking about major league soccer for a long time. There was a real effort early last decade to build a major league soccer stadium in downtown Winston-Salem but those plans fell through. Now there is a "visionary" plan for a major league soccer stadium between Greensboro and WInston-Salem in a future "major league sports complex" MLS exhibition games have been played in Greensboro as well. Soccer or "futbol" is popular among latinos and the Triad has the largest concentration of latinos in the state. The Triangle is trying to get its second pro team. No word on any proposed locations there. But if Charlotte wants this, the Queen City better get on the ball because both the Triangle and Triad are eyeing MLS.

Of course some Winston-Salem residents are still enthusiastic about MLS in the heart of the Twin City. The Triad and Hampton Roads, VA area are the two largest metros in the United States without a major league sports team so yes Charlotte better hurry!!!

courtesy of Fourth and Main Studios.... Clearly the architectural theme is based on the old tobacco factories in downtown Winston-Salem.

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Edited by cityboi

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^I think the real crime for the Triad would be building a retro stadium where there is no historic context. That is to say, I could stomach faux smokestacks, if the site were actually in or near downtown Winston, but a site between the cities doesn't exactly need an old industrial look. If a suburban site is truly preferred, then go modern with the stadium's design.

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It would be great if 2 metros in NC got MLS teams. That would be an intense rivalry. I don't know the market size needed to support a team, so maybe it's not possible, but if Atlanta or Richmond or Nashville was awarded one the same time as a NC city, there could still be a natural rival.

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I think a team would do better in the Triangle than in Charlotte, but it would still be cool to see a team in Charlotte.

For any soccer fans here, the Charlotte 49ers are playing UConn in the Elite 8 this Sunday. We beat defending champions Akron in a standing room only match with 4000+ fans last Sunday.

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^I think the real crime for the Triad would be building a retro stadium where there is no historic context. That is to say, I could stomach faux smokestacks, if the site were actually in or near downtown Winston, but a site between the cities doesn't exactly need an old industrial look. If a suburban site is truly preferred, then go modern with the stadium's design.

I think that retro stadium was a proposal for a downtown site. (I do like the fake smoke stacks though) But it appears as though any effort for MLS in the Triad would be a regional one, not a WInston-Salem one. One plus the Triad has over Charlotte and the Triangle is that there are no other major league sports teams in the region to compete for corporate dollars. But for some reason or another MLS isn't looking at NC in the near future. Its a shame because soccer is very popular in this state. I think MLS could survive in any of the big three metros in NC. I think if the NHL can survive in this state, MLS can.

Edited by cityboi

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Major league sports are like retail...expansion follows when others lead. If you think about it, Major League teams are done expanding into unknown territory (save the exceptions of OKC and the possibility of Las Vegas). A quick look at recent expansion teams in NHL and NBA shows that these new teams are actually a returning presence to the metros, Charlotte lost the Hornets but gained the Bobcats a few years later; Winnipeg lost the Jets almost two decades ago but have now gained the former Atlanta franchise with the help of a strong community voice and wealthy businessmen; and New Orleans regained the NBA almost three decades after the Jazz left.

What I'm getting at is that it isn't likely a major league franchise would relocate or begin in a location that lacks the presence of another major league team. Those years of wealthy businessmen doting on "pet projects" of sports teams are over. There has to be some sort of precedent to be set so that any league would be able to measure their own possible success...or else the leagues will never consent to starting a new franchise.

Plus it helps to locate in an established major league team because of the already known environments of fans, arenas, and amenities.

I can only see Charlotte or, and this is a much weaker possibility IMO, Raleigh. They have huge youth soccer presences and also have experience with successful major league teams.

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^I'd buy that argument for most sports, especially older leagues. However, soccer is basically the newest league. The newer the sport, the more important the expansion is for newer markets. And especially growing markets, like the Sun Belt.

So again, safe bets would be the case for older leagues, of which baseball would easily be the oldest and least likely to expand outside established markets (that's why Jerry Reese should give up). But soccer, on the other hand, is easily at the other end of the spectrum, as an entirely new game for American audiences.

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Major league sports are like retail...expansion follows when others lead. If you think about it, Major League teams are done expanding into unknown territory (save the exceptions of OKC and the possibility of Las Vegas). A quick look at recent expansion teams in NHL and NBA shows that these new teams are actually a returning presence to the metros, Charlotte lost the Hornets but gained the Bobcats a few years later; Winnipeg lost the Jets almost two decades ago but have now gained the former Atlanta franchise with the help of a strong community voice and wealthy businessmen; and New Orleans regained the NBA almost three decades after the Jazz left.

What I'm getting at is that it isn't likely a major league franchise would relocate or begin in a location that lacks the presence of another major league team. Those years of wealthy businessmen doting on "pet projects" of sports teams are over. There has to be some sort of precedent to be set so that any league would be able to measure their own possible success...or else the leagues will never consent to starting a new franchise.

Plus it helps to locate in an established major league team because of the already known environments of fans, arenas, and amenities.

I can only see Charlotte or, and this is a much weaker possibility IMO, Raleigh. They have huge youth soccer presences and also have experience with successful major league teams.

I think the Triad does have a shot because of the strong soccer programs in Greensboro. Soccer is so popular here they had to expand the stadium to hold the fans. The stadium went from 3,000 seat to 7,000 seats. (Charlotte's soccer stadium seats 4,000). So there appears to be a stronger soccer fan base in the Greensboro area. Plus MLS exhibition games have been played in Greensboro so the Triad isn't an untested market for soccer. A few years ago the Philadelphia Union played in Greensboro. I think MLS will look at areas that have strong support for soccer programs. I think the Triad is a large enough market to sustain a MLS franchise. A metro doesn't have to have one big city to support a major league franchise. The Triangle is a great example of that and hockey isn't exactly a popular southern sport. Greensboro's soccer team the Carolina Dynamo is a very successful franchise so there is evidence a MLS team could work here because a higher league of play would attract even more fans, particularly if the stadium were built between Greensboro and Winston-Salem which would attract an even larger fan base. The Carolina Dynamo is in the PDL league which has 65 teams all over the country. Last year Greensboro ranked 4th in the nation in that league as far as attendance. Cities such as St Louis, Nashville, New Orleans and Cincinnati are in that league.

The Triad has enough big corporations to help support MLS, corporations like BB&T, Honda Aircraft , Lincoln Financial, FedEx, VF Corp and many more.

But not knocking Charlotte, I think the Triangle has a more realistic shot really over both Charlotte and the Triad because of a state-of-the-art soccer facility over there. They just need to expand that stadium a little and its suitable for MLS. The stadium in Cary seats close to 10,000. The minimum capacity for MLS is 18,000. Charlotte could revamp Memorial Stadium. The Triad would need a brand new stadium (for centralized location in the Triad). But it would be much cheaper to add 10,000 seats to the Cary stadium. As I stated, any of the big 3 metros have the demographics to support MLS. NC is a hotbed for soccer.

Edited by cityboi

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I think the Triad does have a shot because of the strong soccer programs in Greensboro. Soccer is so popular here they had to expand the stadium to hold the fans. The stadium went from 3,000 seat to 7,000 seats. (Charlotte's soccer stadium seats 4,000). So there appears to be a stronger soccer fan base in the Greensboro area. Plus MLS exhibition games have been played in Greensboro so the Triad isn't an untested market for soccer.

uhm - did you forget that Charlotte has hosted back-to-back exhibition games 2010 and 2011 to basically sold-out (over 63,000) crowds at Bank of America?

Edit: June, 2011 article which discusses http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/06/09/2362131/are-you-ready-for-some-futbol.html

Edited by Urbanity

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uhm - did you forget that Charlotte has hosted back-to-back exhibition games 2010 and 2011 to basically sold-out (over 63,000) crowds at Bank of America?

Edit: June, 2011 article which discusses http://www.charlotte...ome-futbol.html

As I said, any of the big three metros in the state can support MLS because soccer is just that popular in NC and the demographics are there. I think the question is which metro is more prepared and is MLS a top priority. Currently I'd have to say the Triangle. Sure I am bias and would love to see MLS in the Triad. But the reality is Raleigh (Cary) has a modern stadium today that could easily be expanded in a short period of time. An NFL stadium like B of A Stadium can't be home to a permanent team and Memorial Stadium can be used but its will need a lot of renovation work which takes a lot of money. The downside with the Triad is that a new stadium would have to be built. But then again sometimes that can be a good thing. Charlotte's biggest problem is that there is no leadership or group enthusiastic about luring MLS to the Queen City. We are beginning to see such support in the Triangle and at least Triad leaders envision a MLS stadium in its regional plan. Another downside with Charlotte is that the corporate dollars are stretched thin between the NFL and the NBA. Although I still think there may be just enough corporate dollars. Having MLS as well would make it even more difficult for Charlotte to land a Major League Baseball franchise which would be Charlotte's ultimate prize. And it doesn't help matters when the Queen City is focusing on building a minor league park that can't be expanded. It would have been smart for Charlotte to wait and find a site that could support a minor league ballpark that could be expanded for Major League Baseball. Do like Greensboro did. It was hard to find a site large enough for a ballpark so a few properties were purchased and pieced together and part of a road was closed to make room. Its all about timing and money. Sometimes you just can't rush things. I really do think Charlotte is going to have make a choice. Does the city want major league soccer or major league baseball? Because both leagues play during the same time of year and its going to be hard to support both. Its hard enough as it is to attract the fan base to the number of home games for major league baseball. I think the issue with Charlotte is that it has too many things on its plate and major league soccer isn't a priority. Its going to take a grass roots effort for a MLS team in Charlotte. The citizens are going to have to step up and say they want major league soccer. That's the only way you are going to push your leaders.

Edited by cityboi

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uhm - did you forget that Charlotte has hosted back-to-back exhibition games 2010 and 2011 to basically sold-out (over 63,000) crowds at Bank of America?

Edit: June, 2011 article which discusses http://www.charlotte...ome-futbol.html

I think an MLS team could work in Metrolina, the Triangle and MAYBE the Triad (only reason I saw maybe is that they don't have a major league team so there is no current precedent).

But I do believe there is a difference between International Friendlies at BOA vs. regular season MLS games. I went to the Mexico vs. Guatemala game and it was PACKED. But I question how many of those in the crowd (it was overwhelmingly Hispanic - not a suprise considering the squads) went because they loved their country's team, versus how many of those same people would show up to see "Real Charlotte or F.C. Carolina" play the Philadelphia Soul, ect. It's a tough comparison to make. I think it could work though.

Say good bye to our MLB chances if we land an MLS team though.

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I think an MLS team could work in Metrolina, the Triangle and MAYBE the Triad (only reason I saw maybe is that they don't have a major league team so there is no current precedent).

But I do believe there is a difference between International Friendlies at BOA vs. regular season MLS games. I went to the Mexico vs. Guatemala game and it was PACKED. But I question how many of those in the crowd (it was overwhelmingly Hispanic - not a suprise considering the squads) went because they loved their country's team, versus how many of those same people would show up to see "Real Charlotte or F.C. Carolina" play the Philadelphia Soul, ect. It's a tough comparison to make. I think it could work though.

Say good bye to our MLB chances if we land an MLS team though.

I agree. If Charlotte lands MLS the city kills it chances for a major league baseball team. Sometimes I do think we forget that there was a time when Charlotte or Raleigh didn't have a major league team. I remember when it was announced that Charlotte was going to land an NBA team in the late 1980s. People thought it was a crazy idea because they believed Charlotte wasn't big enough. For years Charlotte led the NBA in attendance. Some thought the NHL moving to Raleigh was crazy. Every city that gets its first major league sports franchise goes through that but just because a city or region doesn't currently have one, it doesn't mean its not able to support one. i don't think its an issue at all with the Triad supporting MLS. The problem has to do more with the image of the region itself. Greensboro/Winston-Salem is not well known on a national level like Charlotte and Raleigh despite the fact that the metro population of the Triad and Triangle are almost identical.

Edited by cityboi

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I agree. If Charlotte lands MLS the city kills it chances for a major league baseball team. Sometimes I do think we forget that there was a time when Charlotte or Raleigh didn't have a major league team. I remember when it was announced that Charlotte was going to land an NBA team in the late 1980s. People thought it was a crazy idea because they believed Charlotte wasn't big enough. For years Charlotte led the NBA in attendance. Some thought the NHL moving to Raleigh was crazy. Every city that gets its first major league sports franchise goes through that but just because a city or region doesn't currently have one, it doesn't mean its not able to support one. i don't think its an issue at all with the Triad supporting MLS. The problem has to do more with the image of the region itself. Greensboro/Winston-Salem is not well known on a national level like Charlotte and Raleigh despite the fact that the metro population of the Triad and Triangle are almost identical.

I would even argue that most in NC don't realize the general size and scope of the Triad. It really tends to get a raw deal. Who knows, maybe MLS would be the perfect thing to bring to the Triad and give it some well deserved regional respect. Plus imagine if Charlotte got a team as well (not going to happen, but wow talk about a rivalary).

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I would even argue that most in NC don't realize the general size and scope of the Triad. It really tends to get a raw deal. Who knows, maybe MLS would be the perfect thing to bring to the Triad and give it some well deserved regional respect. Plus imagine if Charlotte got a team as well (not going to happen, but wow talk about a rivalary).

It gets a raw deal because they don't really have any nationally known industries. Charlotte has established itself as a banking town and the Triad is known for the universities, pharmaceuticals, and biotech. I'm from NC and aside from the Areva (not really a nationally known name like Phillip Morris was) and BB&T (a quietly large bank) I really don't know what notable companies call the triad home. Aren't the cities in the Triad also poorer than those in Charlotte and the Triangle?

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I'd argue Winston-Salem has a lot more Name Recognition than the Triad and it would be better off detaching itself from the name sake of the Triad. I can see Charlotte getting MLS over our other Carolinian cities. I mean, I would have guessed MLS before Major League Lacrosse...

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It gets a raw deal because they don't really have any nationally known industries. Charlotte has established itself as a banking town and the Triad is known for the universities, pharmaceuticals, and biotech. I'm from NC and aside from the Areva (not really a nationally known name like Phillip Morris was) and BB&T (a quietly large bank) I really don't know what notable companies call the triad home. Aren't the cities in the Triad also poorer than those in Charlotte and the Triangle?

I wouldn't say the region is poor. However the income levels are higher in Charlotte and particularly the Triangle. Charlotte is well known for banking. The Triangle is known for its universities, research and tech companies. The Triad is somewhat diverse. Yes traditional industries still thrive. Winston-Salem is still a financial center. BB&T is headquartered there and Wachovia was headquartered there. Biotech is big in Winston-Salem. Of course RJ Reynolds Tobacco (Camel, Winston, Kool, Salem) is based in Winston-Salem. Greensboro is a distribution, aviation and logistics hub and is gaining a reputation in nanotechnology and hi-tech manufacturing. Honda Aircraft Company has its world headquarters and a jet factory in Greensboro. Volvo Trucks of North America and Mack Trucks are based in Greensboro. Lincoln Financial's insurance division is headquartered in Greensboro. VF Corp is a fortune 500 company headquartered in Greensboro and is the world's largest apparel company (known for brands such as Wrangler, Lee, Nautica, Eagle Creek and now TImberland). The nation's third largest Tobacco Company (Lorillard - maker of Newport, Kent and True) is headquartered in Greensboro and there is a cigarette plant there. So there are big companies in the region. But lets face it. Charlotte is on a another level competing with cities like Atlanta and Dallas. Charlotte has more attractions and a more urban quality of life. That is attractive to many big companies looking to relocate and that's one reason Charlotte landed Chiquita. Those are high paying jobs coming to Charlotte. The Queen City has always had a drive to become a big city. I believe NC will eventually land major league soccer and which ever metro gets it, it will be good for the whole state and soccer in NC.

Edited by cityboi

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Say good bye to our MLB chances if we land an MLS team though.

But given the direction of baseball, newer markets really don't have much chance of MLB expansion. Charlotte's more likely MLB strategy is poaching an existing team from an underperforming market. But if a team can't make it a comparable Sunbelt or secondary city, then they would struggle here as well, with or without MLS.

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I wouldn't say the region is poor. However the income levels are higher in Charlotte and particularly the Triangle. Charlotte is well known for banking. The Triangle is known for its universities, research and tech companies. The Triad is somewhat diverse. Yes traditional industries still thrive. Winston-Salem is still a financial center. BB&T is headquartered there and Wachovia was headquartered there. Biotech is big in Winston-Salem. Of course RJ Reynolds Tobacco (Camel, Winston, Kool, Salem) is based in Winston-Salem. Greensboro is a distribution, aviation and logistics hub and is gaining a reputation in nanotechnology and hi-tech manufacturing. Honda Aircraft Company has its world headquarters and a jet factory in Greensboro. Volvo Trucks of North America and Mack Trucks are based in Greensboro. Lincoln Financial's insurance division is headquartered in Greensboro. VF Corp is a fortune 500 company headquartered in Greensboro and is the world's largest apparel company (known for brands such as Wrangler, Lee, Nautica, Eagle Creek and now TImberland). The nation's third largest Tobacco Company (Lorillard - maker of Newport, Kent and True) is headquartered in Greensboro and there is a cigarette plant there. So there are big companies in the region. But lets face it. Charlotte is on a another level competing with cities like Atlanta and Dallas. Charlotte has more attractions and a more urban quality of life. That is attractive to many big companies looking to relocate and that's one reason Charlotte landed Chiquita. Those are high paying jobs coming to Charlotte. The Queen City has always had a drive to become a big city. I believe NC will eventually land major league soccer and which ever metro gets it, it will be good for the whole state and soccer in NC.

ah cool, thanks for the info. I didn't know many of those places were HQ'd in the triad. I knew of the cigarette companies (which is what I meant when I typed Areva, although I meant Altria), but the others were news to me.

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An NFL stadium like B of A Stadium can't be home to a permanent team

Not true: New England Revolution play home games at Gillette Stadium (Patriots) and Seattle Sounders play home games at CentruyLink field (Seahawks) .

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Charlotte's more likely MLB strategy is poaching an existing team from an underperforming market.

Maybe we could poach the Reds? Just a joke...no idea if they are under performing.

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If Charlotte is to get an MLB team it is true that it will most likely be a relocation rather than an expansion. If it were to happen I think it would most likely be Tampa Bay which could work out well especially since it's AAA team is the Durham Bulls...Think of the synergistic relationship between the Checkers and the Hurricanes.

Maybe we could poach the Reds? Just a joke...no idea if they are under performing.

Actually the Reds are decent in terms of their attendance-roughly in the middle of the pack for baseball teams. The Reds are one of many teams that discredit the August study of overstretched sports markets that was so widely used to explain why Charlotte couldn't support an MLB team. Cincinnati is supposedly a massively overstretched sports market according to that study yet the MLB has survived in Cincy for decades (Charlotte's CSA actually has hundreds of thousands of more people than Cincinnati's CSA). But I digress...

Edited by cltbwimob

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