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MLS team HQ at Eastland moving forward

(Photo: Mike Kalasnik/Flickr)

 

by Corey Inscoe

It has been nearly eight years since the City of Charlotte tore Eastland Mall down. It has been 10 years since the east Charlotte mall famous for its indoor ice skating rink closed for good.

Since then, the lot has sat vacant with one proposal after another – movie studio? Massive ski slope? – failing to gain any traction. 

Now it looks like there’s a plan for the long-neglected site, and yes, it involves Charlotte’s MLS team. 

The city and developer Crosland Southeast filed a rezoning petition for the site last week, the first step in bringing an MLS training facility and headquarters to Eastland.

Here’s what you need to know: 

  • "It’s pretty unlikely that the facility will be ready for the team’s first season in 2021," Tracy Dodson, assistant city manager and economic development director, told the Charlotte Observer. City Council isn’t expected to vote on the petition until the spring and, if things stay on schedule, construction would begin before the end of the year.
  • This should be more than just a soccer facility. The petition, obtained by the Observer, shows plans for a mix of commercial and residential space, offices, hotels, transit facilities and at least 2 acres of green space. (This is a good thing.)
  • In its push to bring an MLS team to Charlotte, the city said it was willing to set aside $110 million for the team, according to a November letter from Mayor Vi Lyles to MLS Commissioner Don Garber. That money will likely be split between this Eastland project and upgrades to Bank of America Stadium. But the city has said it won’t start releasing those funds until it gets assurance that Tepper won’t up and move the team to South Carolina.
  • If you’ve heard any drama about this news, it’s because the city neglected to invite several local reporters to its invite-only media briefing. Not a great look for transparency.

This project is in its early stages but – if done right – this could be a great thing for east Charlotte. This needs to be more than just a walled-off training complex. It needs to be a development that engages the vibrant international community around it and benefits the entire area — not just the soccer team.

“We are one step closer to seeing an economic catalyst in east Charlotte, and it will be a destination point for our region once again,” City Council member Dimple Ajmera told the Observer.

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