by Julie Tisdale
City & County Policy Analyst
MLS has chosen finalists for their next two expansion teams, and neither North Carolina bid made the cut.
No one’s surprised about Charlotte. The funding picture there had been a mess for a long time. The county was on board, but the city wasn’t. Then the county wasn’t really either. Marcus Smith kept trying to get local governments to come round. It seemed pretty shambolic.
Raleigh’s bid was neater, with less (but still too much, in my opinion) dependence on public funding. Most observers still thought it was a long shot, though, and they’ve been proved right. There’s still the possibility of either Charlotte or Raleigh being chosen in a later round, but today’s announcement was a blow.
Soccer games, and sports in general, are a lot of fun. I’d probably have attended a game on occasion if a team had come to my town. But I’d also have been frustrated by the allocation of my tax dollars to fund a private business venture. I don’t like corporate welfare in any form, including subsidies for stadiums (or the land on which they’re built).
So what about the four that were chosen?
My favorite is Sacramento’s, which involves a privately funded stadium. Most people also think this is all but a done deal.
Nashville’s stadium would be heavily funded by local governments. I’m not liking that at all.
Cincinnati would also use taxpayer money, but not as much as Nashville. Still, it comes to hundreds of millions of dollars over time.
Detroit would use Ford Field, which is the biggest surprise of the lot. MLS has seemed pretty insistent on a soccer-specific stadium through this process.
So taxpayers in Tennessee, Ohio, or Michigan may still be on the hook for this, but I think North Carolina taxpayers actually got quite lucky this time round.