I came across a tweet today from our friends at BringBacktheBuzz regarding Mayor Clodfelter mentioning the old Eastland Mall site as a potential spot to build a MLS stadium.
Do you think the Eastland Mall area would be a good place to build an MLS Stadium? RT-Yes FAV- No pic.twitter.com/GRwQJsglUZ
— Bring Back The Buzz™ (@BringBackTheBuz) September 18, 2015
I then saw a post on Crown Town Soccer that had a bit more information.
— Crown Town Soccer (@crowntownsoccer) September 2, 2015
Now, folks that are new to Charlotte don’t know how big East Charlotte was back in the day. I grew up on the east side in the late 70s, 80s and 90s. Eastland Mall was the epicenter of everything on the east side, as my friend Jason Foster’s piece illustrated for CharlotteAgenda.com earlier this Summer. The downfall was its proximity to some sketchy apartment complexes that drove down the property value and increased crime in the surrounding areas. While there are still some bad neighborhoods around Eastland, many of the affected areas are rebounding.
If you look at the Eastland property, it’s roughly 6 miles away from Time Warner Cable Arena / CATS Transit Center, and about 3 miles from Plaza Midwood.
It’s also along the proposed CATS Gold Line, which according to the map, would have the Eastland property as a terminus.
Additionally, there is a large international presence on Charlotte’s east side, with a large portion of that being hispanic.
Oh, and the best part is, the city of Charlotte already owns the property.
If the powers that be can secure an MLS team and the city builds a stadium on that property it would be a huge incentive to build that Gold Line — which is in the city’s 2030 plan. The Light Rail, as we’ve seen along the South Blvd Line, has helped to revitalize the SouthEnd area. Mayor Clodfelter and his city planners undoubtedly see this as an opportunity to revitalize the eastern edge of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
Many of Charlotte’s new residents, who have settled Downtown (I refuse to call it Uptown), don’t venture away from the center city area. I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t either. But with Ramblewood nearly in South Carolina (at least that is what the map says) and no other feasible land available to build a soccer stadium downtown, Eastland makes perfect economic sense.