Just under two months ago, North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik announced he wants to bring a Major League Soccer club to the Triangle.
On Jan. 31, that plan began to materialize as North Carolina FC submitted its bid to join the MLS, the United States’ top-tier league.
“I’m feeling better (than I was a month ago),” Malik said. “It was a lot of work to get our application in and to have gotten that done feels great. Some of those pieces we got done completing in the application we’re looking forward to coming public with.”
The Triangle is competing with 11 other cities for four spots: Charlotte; Sacramento, San Diego; Detroit; Nashville, Tenn.; Austin, Tex.; St. Louis, Mo.; Phoenix; and Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.; Cincinnati; and San Antonio.
Indianapolis, home to the Indy 11 and a North Carolina FC opponent in the North American Soccer League, announced its plan to submit a bid on the eve of the Jan. 31 deadline.
Charlotte’s efforts to land a team took a hit last week when the Charlotte City Council declined to discuss and vote on spending $43.75 million to fund a new stadium.
Marcus Smith, the son of NASCAR tycoon Bruton Smith and the leader of the effort to land a team in Charlotte, still expressed that he expected to lead a bid.
Speedway Motorsports executive Mike Burch said at a news conference Monday that he expects the city of Charlotte to vote in favor of subsidizing the costs of the stadium down the road.
“The city is trying to put forth tourism dollars, and we think this is a great use of those dollars,” Burch said.
Malik and his team of investors plan to pay for the $150 million stadium and $150 expansion fee. Some public money may be required for infrastructure costs such as parking and improved roads.
Within the bid is a rendering of a 22,000-seat stadium that was designed with the assistance of Gensler, the company that designed Los Angeles FC’s aesthetic stadium.
The proposed stadium could have a translucent roof, similar to the one the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings play under.
“As a city, we want a showcase destination, and this is a big part of the fan experience,” Malik said. “There’s new technology that have made some really cool things feasible in the past few years and we want something that’s going to be enduring for our market.”
Renderings of the new stadium will be available “in the next few weeks,” according to Malik. The final three location sites, one of which is WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, will also be made public to allow for feedback from the community and MLS.