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tozmervo

MLS in Charlotte?

372 posts in this topic

1 hour ago, ajfunder said:

I was able to see renderings for the rebuilt Memorial Stadium from a friend in the Independence organization. Very little of the original stadium is preserved but if the plan is carried out as I saw it I have no issue with a new stadium.

I have some of the renderings but I have been asked not to post them yet as negotiations with the county are ongoing therefore I will describe the plans the best I can:

The first USL phase is essentially the lower bowl of the new stadium. I was told 2017 is the year they hope to move to Memorial.

 The MLS stadium plans call for the bridging of Charlottetowne and Kings Drive to create plazas on either end. The Grady Cole center would be demolished. The road that currently encircles the stadium would be closed. An extension of the greenway would run along the northern edge of the stadium connecting Little Sugar Creek to Independence Park and utilize the new underpasses. 

The stadium itself is a full lower bowl and an upper bowl which encircles 3/4 of the stadium with a overhang providing weather protection. The one end without the upper bowl opens up with a view of Uptown. The location and design along with the view of Uptown would make this one of the best stadiums in the MLS if it ever (hopefully) comes to fruition.

Cool!  We might have the same friend as I know they're hoping to announce this good news prior to the 2016 season.  In the meanwhile support our club wherever they play.  We played an entertaining brand of soccer last year and the team is putting together another solid roster.  Need to announce some more attacking talent IMO.. But overall they're doing well from where we were a year ago.

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4 hours ago, MilZ said:

That sounds like everything I was hoping for! Thank you for the new info. I can't wait to see this thing for myself.

Do we have a timetable for when the deal with the city might be worked out so we can see the renderings?

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^I'm not certain there is a firm timetable but if they want the first phase done by 2017 I would assume relatively soon. I believe most of the negotiations are with the county.

Edited by ajfunder

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8 hours ago, DavieNative said:

Do we have a timetable for when the deal with the city might be worked out so we can see the renderings?

Still a fluid situation and from the moving targets the team promised/guaranteed in 2015 I'm sure they won't say anything till it's sign, sealed & delivered.  But they are hopeful prior to the start of the next season.  Which is mid-late March.

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Looks like there is a good amount of support from city and county officials for funding a Memorial Stadium renovation/rebuild for the Independence and to attract an MLS franchise.  Seems like a lot of people think Charlotte has a good shot at landing a team in the next round of expansion.  A $100 million expansion fee is very steep, but I think there is definitely room for another professional team in Charlotte.

http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/queen_city_agenda/2016/01/city-county-likely-to-hear-soccer-stadium-pitch.html

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Since we were mentioning MLS in the baseball thread, I figured I'd plop this here.  Zach just posted a solid article about the struggles the Independence are having, and why I frankly don't ever see Charlotte getting an MLS team.

http://www.crowntownsoccer.com/mls-commish-throws-cold-water-mls2clt-dreams/

I think at best we are going to be an NASL city, and even that won't happen until the stadium issues get figured out.  Averaging 2000 people a game simply won't get it done.  Not when you've got cities like Cincinnati putting 20k in the stands.  http://www.wcpo.com/sports/soccer/fc-cincinnati-crowd-sets-league-attendance-record

That's the reality, 10x the amount of people.  We are no where near being MLS.

 

 

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I am a casual soccer fan (no favorite team and only occasionally watch when I spot a game while lazily flipping through the channels) but was excited when the Independence was announced. The problem is that I think they really messed up getting all the information out to the public. For example, I thought this whole time that them playing at Memorial was a done deal but according to that article that is still in the air and it appears that Ramblewood will be their home for the forseable future. I know when I saw pictures of the place I nearly laughed out loud. Management is right in that the pitch is for the die-hards. It just looks sad.

A good friend of mine is from Poland and she became pretty good friends with the Polish player (unfortunately i cant remember his name) they had on the team last year. From what I understand he came over on a one year contract with a player option for additional years. She told me that as soon as he saw the place he regretted signing. Needless to say he didn't stay after the year. Him and his wife loved the city, but not the team experience. And this will be the big problem. With such a lackluster set-up and sagging attendance they will struggle getting top talent thus making it harder to draw in more fans.

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I am not a soccer fan at all but agree with go_vertical that the current venue for the Independence is a huge portion of the problem with soccer in CLT. Its invisible to the city, hard for everyone to get to and not particularly inviting or welcoming.

Don't forget, the Knights only drew 3,000 fans per game in Fort Mill, a shift to a MUCH better stadium yielded minor league leading attendance.

But like I said, I know bupkis about the sport, but location (and lack of alcohol) has gotta be part of the problem.

[as an aside, I was going to ride the streetcar to watch the Hounds on Saturday. I decided not to simply because they reupped their BudLight sponsorship, if its the same as last year that means ShockTop is the best beer available there Both the venue (I really like Memorial) and the amenities (beer) are important. I went to Wooden Robot instead]

Edited by kermit
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13 minutes ago, kermit said:

I am not a soccer fan at all but agree with go_vertical that the current venue for the Independence is a huge portion of the problem with soccer in CLT. Its invisible to the city, hard for everyone to get to and not particularly inviting or welcoming.

Don't forget, the Knights only drew 3,000 fans per game in Fort Mill, a shift to a MUCH better stadium yielded minor league leading attendance.

But like I said, I know bupkis about the sport, but location (and lack of alcohol) has gotta be part of the problem.

[as an aside, I was going to ride the streetcar to watch the Hounds on Saturday. I decided not to simply because they reupped their BudLight sponsorship, if its the same as last year that means ShockTop is the best beer available there. I went to Wooden Robot instead]

 

The venue is absolutely the issue.  The problem is, unlike the Knights, the Independence has the opportunity to become an MLS team.  However, that opportunity has a limited time window.  And every year that passes by without a secure home or fan base, is another nail in the MLStoCLT coffin.

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23 minutes ago, kermit said:

But like I said, I know bupkis about the sport, but location (and lack of alcohol) has gotta be part of the problem.

[as an aside, I was going to ride the streetcar to watch the Hounds on Saturday. I decided not to simply because they reupped their BudLight sponsorship, if its the same as last year that means ShockTop is the best beer available there. I went to Wooden Robot instead]

While the location doesn't help Charlotte Independence, other cities are literally die-hard about soccer and are filling suburban stadiums. Many MLS stadiums are not in their host city's downtown and it probably doesn't comfort the MLS that Charlotte residents don't show up if the game doesn't have the right stadium.

St. Louis is probably the next city to get an expansion team. Their USL team is 20 miles from downtown in suburban Fenton and they are not having the attendance problems of Charlotte. The stadium isn't fancy (looks like a high school stadium), the ambiance isn't cool, the location isn't walk able at ALL (between warehouses, a railroad shipping yard, and a river). People just love the team and they love soccer. THAT is the ambiance. People that love the game. Not people that love to take in the view of Uptown while drinking expensive alcohol and go "Oh look, a soccer game.!" MLS is recognizing this and knows a big league team could thrive in places like St. Louis. You NEED that core fan base that actually cares.

15529_961902743843187_901388534692803585

Edited by CLT2014

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The stadium situation will continue to wear down their options. I thought the plan was always to use Memorial stadium sooner rather than later, like this year. Additionally, they are doing a terrible job of promotion and building the brand among families in the area. Didn't realize the new venue likes alcohol as mentioned above. That makes it a hard sell for a lot of people.

I grew up in Charleston and still go to their games whenever I'm back in town the Battery atmosphere/stadium just puts Charlotte to shame. It doesn't make since because Charlotte is a big city with big passion for soccer (remember all the turnout for the World Cup?). It has to be management and execution so far.

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6 minutes ago, Desert Power said:

Didn't realize the new venue likes alcohol as mentioned above. That makes it a hard sell for a lot of people.

 

My understanding is they are selling OMB, NoDa, and Birdsong within Ramblewood Stadium during home games. 

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I didn't even know about Charlotte Independence till today, in this thread. 

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The prices are ridiculous for sideline seats at Independence games.  The remote locale and $10 parking is a gut punch.  The $7 beer in stadium and now enforced prohibited tailgating outside is the straw that breaks the camels back.  This coming from a season ticket supporter who's there every game.  The team did open up the "party deck" 2hrs before game time and offered 4 beers for $10 this past game.  Good first step for those of us who make the trip out there.

All concerns above listed are ones those of us who actually go have about the club.  I love the talent on the field and the friends made through the past 18 months or so since the team was announced.  And I think that's the same opinion we now all share, it's about the players and each other.  So we definitely understand how everything I outlined above could turn off the casual supporter.

As to the situation affecting the talent they draw that has not happened... yet.  We have a quality side this year and it's funny you mention that about Zahorski as he re-signed with the team for 2016 till he moved back to Poland.  Could have been his backup plan all along I suppose.  Fortunately we're in a college soccer hotbed with enough talent from the area that the thought of playing at home coupled with MLS affiliation has mitigated some of the off the field issues up to this point.

Edited by SouthEndCLT811

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Charlotte's situation with Memorial reminds me often of Portland's with Providence Park, which was built in 1926 and utilized mostly for baseball and now for the Portland Timbers of MLS. It had two significant investments in updating, in 2001 for $38M for the Portland Beavers (Triple-A Pacific Coast League) and USL Timbers, and again in 2010 for $38M for the MLS Timbers (reconfiguring primarily for soccer and football and resurfacing). From 2001 to 2010 the Timbers were in the USL and the stadium renovation was one key part to their move to MLS. The stadium is owned by the City of Portland.

Much like Charlotte, the stadium is not downtown, but just southeast and connected via streetcar. Views of downtown can be seen through one open end and the surrounding neighborhood is walkable and full of soccer fans wandering the streets on game day. I was in Portland this fall and the neighborhood around Providence Park was so energized. Though the stadium is not really a "looker" and we could do better, it feels right to have the history of the site preserved just enough that it fits in the neighborhood and gives a honorable nod to the building's history.

We have to nail the stadium if soccer in Charlotte is to have an exciting future. I think Memorial Stadium is a spectacular site with tremendous potential. 

Here are couple of shots of Providence Park and its location:

Timbers 1.jpg

 

Timbers 2.jpg

 

Timbers 3.jpg

 

Edited by JoshuaDrown
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27 minutes ago, JoshuaDrown said:

We have to nail the stadium if soccer in Charlotte is to have an exciting future. I think Memorial Stadium is a spectacular site with tremendous potential. 

Here are couple of shots of Providence Park and its location:

The biggest question I have is who has the expected $200 million expansion fee?  This would be on top of the $20 million needed in private money for the stadium.  

I wonder if the current owners would be willing to take a very, very minority share in an effort to try and bring on Michael Jordan.  Not only does he have the money but his 'Jordan' brand at Nike currently does not have anything for soccer.  He could double dip by not only getting into the MLS but also building out his Nike brand on an international level....

There are also some advantages to owners having two professional teams in the same city.  Terry Pegula owns both the Buffalo Bills and Sabres and runs all of the marketing and a lot of the operations under a single company.  

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A Raleigh-Charlotte rivalry could be as big as the Seattle-Portland MLS one (but with fewer chainsaws).

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If Raleigh lands a team, Charlotte won't be getting one.

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14 minutes ago, Jack152 said:

If Raleigh lands a team, Charlotte won't be getting one.

I agree.  Quite frankly, I don't think we are getting one regardless.  One need look no further than attendance numbers among "candidate cities" and you'll see we are no-where near the top.  I get the facility issues are a major driving factor.  But I think we are going to miss the boat on this one.

MLS will do better in Raleigh anyways.  It's a one-horse pro team town right now and carries a greater "hipster" vibe than Charlotte anyways.  Given its substantial student population, I think an MLS stadium in the right place would kill in Raleigh.

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23 hours ago, ah59396 said:

I agree.  Quite frankly, I don't think we are getting one regardless.  One need look no further than attendance numbers among "candidate cities" and you'll see we are no-where near the top.  I get the facility issues are a major driving factor.  But I think we are going to miss the boat on this one.

MLS will do better in Raleigh anyways.  It's a one-horse pro team town right now and carries a greater "hipster" vibe than Charlotte anyways.  Given its substantial student population, I think an MLS stadium in the right place would kill in Raleigh.

Frankly, I don't think either city is getting an MLS Club anytime soon, but I still think Charlotte has the better pedigree... If we can get the stadium worked out, and then people show up.

I also think we do have the time to make our case stronger. There are 20 current Clubs, and 4 extras have been announced. The league will likely hit the 30-32 team cap eventually, that most other American Leagues settle in at. If you look at all the cities in North America with a professional franchise in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, and CFL, Raleigh is far down the list in population, as a city and more importantly, I think, as a Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Here are some interesting comparisons for the smallest MLS markets and population, with CLT and Raleigh tossed in:

Kansas City, 34th in city population at 1.6M and 30th in MSA at 2.08M

Charlotte, (35) 1.6M and (22) at 2.42M

Columbus, (36) 1.5M and (32) at 2.02M

Raleigh, (42) 1.13M and (44) at 1.27M

Salt Lake City, (45) 1.1M and (48) at 1.17M

The only Metropolitan Statistical Areas larger than CLT that do not have an MLS club close by are Detroit (14), Tampa (18), and St Louis (20). MLS wants markets and the Southeast is in their cross-hairs. I don't think Raleigh hanging out at the bottom of the population list with Salt Lake is at all desirable for the league. St. Louis will probably get a club, as will Sacramento. That leaves maybe 4 spots. Las Vegas is pushing hard and for the sake of argument, I'd give one to them. That still leaves 3 more spots, and we have time until those fill up.

Get this stadium done and then start filling it up... that's the road map to MLS.

 

 

Edited by JoshuaDrown
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19 minutes ago, JoshuaDrown said:

Frankly, I don't think either city is getting an MLS Club anytime soon, but I still think Charlotte has the better pedigree... If we can get the stadium worked out, and then people show up.

I also think we do have the time to make our case stronger. There are 20 current Clubs, and 4 extras have been announced. The league will likely hit the 30-32 team cap eventually, that most other American Leagues settle in at. If you look at all the cities in North America with a professional franchise in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, and CFL, Raleigh is far down the list in population, as a city and more importantly, I think, as a Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Here are some interesting comparisons for the smallest MLS markets and population, with CLT and Raleigh tossed in:

Kansas City, 34th in city population at 1.6M and 30th in MSA at 2.08M

Charlotte, (35) 1.6M and (22) at 2.42M

Columbus, (36) 1.5M and (32) at 2.02M

Raleigh, (42) 1.13M and (44) at 1.27M

Salt Lake City, (45) 1.1M and (48) at 1.17M

The only Metropolitan Statistical Areas larger than CLT that do not have an MLS club close by are Detroit (14), Tampa (18), and St Louis (20). MLS wants markets and the Southeast is in their cross-hairs. I don't think Raleigh hanging out at the bottom of the population list with Salt Lake is at all desirable for the league. St. Louis will probably get a club, as will Sacramento. That leaves maybe 4 spots. Las Vegas is pushing hard and for the sake of argument, I'd give one to them. That still leaves 3 more spots, and we have time until those fill up.

Get this stadium done and then start filling it up... that's the road map to MLS.

 

 

 

I don't disagree with the population numbers, but that doesn't tell the whole story.  The MLS is looking for specific markets, hot beds of millenial growth.  I think Charlotte can make that argument, however I think Raleigh can make it stronger with their tech/education background.  Charlotte is perceived as a "white collar/stale" town and I don't necessarily disagree with that perception.

Also, Charlotte is MUCH higher on the MLB expansion list than the MLS expansion list, again in due time.  However, given your time frame noted above when the MLS decides to go to 30, we may be talking about the late 2020's.  It's not unreasonable to believe that in the late 2020's when additional MLS expansion is announced, Charlotte already has an MLB team.  Which would completely saturate our pro sports market. 

 

But you are right, money talks more than anything.  If a Bruton Smith or Jerry Richardson or whoever, swooped in tomorrow and said "I'm bringing an MLS team to Charlotte, I've got $100m to spend on a team and stadium in uptown", the MLS execs would be on the next flight to Charlotte.  I just don't see that happening.

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1 hour ago, ah59396 said:

Also, Charlotte is MUCH higher on the MLB expansion list than the MLS expansion list, again in due time.  

Totally agree, Charlotte has to be 3rd or 4th on MLB's list, but I think they are only going to add two teams and Commissioner Manfred has only named two cities as targets, Mexico City (21M residents in their MSA) and Montreal (4M), both of which potentially kill CLT in revenue. Who knows if Oakland or Tampa will lose their teams...

I'd be happy as either an MLB or MLS city, but I do think that CLT has to be near the top of the list for any expansion... If we continue this pace of population growth, only Austin and San Antonio (maybe Portland for MLB) will be competitive MSAs for expansion in either league as far as potential dollars and eyes on the product go. 

Talk about money... that MLB expansion might carry with it a $1B investment for franchise, stadium, and infrastructure. Wonder where that's coming from.

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A problem with MLB in Canada is that players require their pay in US$ and all local (nationwide north of the border) radio/tv and stadium income and local and nationwide Canadian income from all sources is in Cdn $. Currently that is a 25% loss for the Canadian franchise. Very tough to be competitive at that rate. I am sure any other pro sport would have same player demand on pay and currency.

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