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Weekly News Roundup: MLS Comes to Charlotte

Dec. 8-14, 2019

MLS Announcement Expected Next Week

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and Mayor Vi Lyles are expected to announce that Charlotte will be home to Major League Soccer’s 30th franchise at a press conference at Mint Museum in Uptown on Tuesday morning. According to a media advisory, the two will be joined by “additional special guests” at the press conference, which is scheduled for 10 a.m.

According to a letter Lyles sent to MLS Commissioner Don Garber in November, which was made public this week, the city is willing to use up to $110 million in tourism funds to bring the team to Charlotte. The price of an MLS expansion team is estimated at more than $300 million.

Tepper, who made a formal presentation to MLS officials on Dec. 5, has been spearheading efforts to bring a team here since buying the Panthers in 2018. The new team would play at Bank of America Stadium, which would need renovations to host regular soccer games, including new locker rooms and being fitted for different camera angles.

In Lyles’ letter, she wrote that the city plans to place the new team’s headquarters and practice facilities at the former Eastland Mall site, which has sat abandoned for nearly a decade.

Earlier this month, a Panthers executive reportedly filed trademark applications for eight potential team names: Charlotte FC, Charlotte Fortune FC, Charlotte Athletic FC, Charlotte Crown FC, Charlotte Monarchs FC, Charlotte Gliders FC, Charlotte Town FC and All Carolina FC.

Driggs Walks Out of Meeting During Winston Speech

The Monday morning murder of Brooks’ Sandwich House co-owner Scott Brooks rocked a community, yet later that evening, Charlotte City Council member Ed Driggs wasn’t interested in hearing fellow council member Braxton Winston’s remarks about the city’s 104th homicide.

As Winston got about four minutes into a speech about what Brooks meant to the community (a speech he starts around the 2:09:00 mark in the video above), Driggs interrupted him, saying, “Mr. Winston, this is abuse … This is a not a mayor-topic speech you are making right now. If we all talked like this, we would be in here for over an hour. I’d ask you to respect the rest of us and limit your remarks. Thank you. You can make that speech in a lot of places.”

A seemingly shocked Winston told Driggs he would, in fact, finish his speech, then asked Driggs three times when the last time one of his friends was murdered. Driggs did not respond, and instead got up from his seat and left the dais.

County Announces Siloam School Investment

County officials and Charlotte Museum of History (CMoH) leaders announced on Tuesday that the county will put $125,000 toward the museum’s efforts to save the Siloam School, a schoolhouse built for black children in the early 1900s that currently sits abandoned on Mallard Highlands Drive in University City. Staff plans to move the school to the museum property in east Charlotte as soon as enough money is raised.

[From left] County manager Dena Diorio, county commissioners Susan Harden and George Dunlap, Charlotte Museum of History president and CEO Adria Focht and Save Siloam School Project chair Fannie Flono. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)
The county funding will add to $50,000 promised by the city in January. Altogether, the Save Siloam School Project has raised $185,000. Though the entire project — which includes moving the school, preparing the site, renovating the structure and upfitting the school with modern technology like air conditioning — is expected to cost between $700,000 and $800,000, CMoH president and CEO Adria Focht said the new funding announcement will give the project more legitimacy when applying for larger grants nationally.

Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners chair George Dunlap became emotional while talking to reporters and supporters outside of the school on Tuesday morning.

“This school holds history that we need to understand in order to move forward, including the story of segregation and unequal access to education in our community,” Dunlap said. “The preserved Siloam School will be a place for the people of Mecklenburg County to engage in discussions around some of these issues that are still affecting us today, including inequity.”

Alma Adams’ HBCU Bill Passes House, Senate

The FUTURE Act, a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, who represents N.C.’s 12th congressional district covering much of Mecklenburg County, passed through the House and the Senate on Tuesday night and is now on President Trump’s desk. The act is seen as a landmark piece of legislation for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), committing a permanent funding stream of $255 million annually to higher learning institutions.

“This is one of the proudest days of my career as your congresswoman,” wrote Adams in a statement. “I would like to thank all of the HBCU advocates who helped pass this bill: HBCU students, graduates, faculty and staff; Divine Nine members; the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC); our bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress and Senators; and organizations like the Thurgood Marshall Foundation, NAFFEO, and the UNCF, which sent tens of thousands of letters to Congress in support of the bill. Furthermore, I’d like to thank our Democratic candidates for president, who have released the most ambitious campaign plans for HBCUs in history.”

(Photo courtesy of Alma Adams)

Multiple presidential candidates released statements praising the new FUTURE Act and Adams’ efforts to get it passed, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “For more than 100 years, HBCUs have created higher education opportunities that open doors for Black students and cultivate leaders who fight for equality, justice and opportunity, but for far too long we have failed these schools and their students. We need to call out the history of discrimination in higher education and honor the role HBCUs have played in our country. That means really investing in these institutions — the way we should have been for generations. I’m deeply grateful for Congresswoman Alma Adams’ leadership on this issue, and will continue standing shoulder to shoulder with her to make real investments in the next generation.”

Man Arrested After Shooting at Smokey Joe’s

Timothy Williams

The killing of Scott Brooks was the only homicide in Charlotte this week, and no arrests have yet been made in that case. However, an arrest has been made in a separate shooting that also occurred at a popular hangout early Wednesday morning. Police responded to Smokey Joe’s Café at around 2 a.m. on Wednesday in response to a call about a shooting and found one man suffering from a life-threatening gunshot wound. According to CMPD, two patrons of the bar got into a fight when one of the men shot the other then fled the scene.

On Friday, police arrested 39-year-old Timothy Williams for the shooting at Smokey Joe’s and charged him with attempted first-degree murder. Police said Williams had to be treated for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound that he “received prior to any interaction with police,” though it’s unclear whether he was shot during the incident two days earlier.

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