Raleigh Loses Out on MLS—and Maybe Affordable Housing, Too | News

Raleigh Loses Out on MLS—and Maybe Affordable Housing, Too


Yesterday, Major League Soccer named its four finalists for two franchise slots that will be awarded this year. North Carolina FC’s wasn’t among them. Instead, the finalists were Sacramento, Cincinnati, Nashville, and Detroit. But that doesn’t the Triangle is altogether out of the running. MLS is planning to name two more franchises next year. And while Cincy, Nashville, and Sacramento are all expected to win bids either this year or next, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Raleigh could overtake Detroit.
  • “Detroit’s bid dropped building a soccer-specific stadium in the burgeoning downtown arena district in favor of playing home games at Ford Field, which is exactly the kind of thing MLS has eschewed in the past. It’s also a separate entity from Detroit’s existing and well-supported semi-pro team, Detroit City FC, which raises questions about community support. But Detroit has the edge on Raleigh as a larger TV market and with extremely rich owners who already own NBA franchises.”
  • To overcome that advantage, team owner Steve Malik is going to have to get his stadium deal in order. The current plan is to place it on state-owned land downtown.
  • From the N&O: “NCFC owner Stephen Malik knew that getting in business with the state government was going to require patience and persistence–Charlotte-area legislators already scuttled a bill that would have allocated funding to study the stadium plan—and that has indeed been the case. Malik said Wednesday that negotiations continue, but at some point, there’s going to have to be tangible progress. ‘We sort of knew, frankly, when we took on the challenge of the state government property, the timelines weren’t 100 percent in our control,’ Malik said. ‘At the same time, we thought it was worth the challenge.’”
  • He’ll also have to draw larger crowds: “Malik said that the franchise has spent the past year rebranding, merging the area’s three massive youth clubs under one umbrella, bringing in the Courage on the eve of their season, preparing the MLS bid and working on the stadium plan and can now focus on growing NCFC again, hoping that the move to a league with more regional rivals will galvanize the fan base. ‘I certainly can say this year we’re much more focused on getting some of those attendance challenges addressed,’ Malik said.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Sports fan or no, you have to be impressed by what Malik has done, bringing—through his own deep pockets and sheer force of will—an embattled team to the precipice of major league glory. And whether he’ll be able to take that last step largely depends on factors beyond his control—namely, whether the state will play ball with the land. I’m ambivalent about the stadium plan itself; I think there might be some better or at least more expedient spots around Raleigh, and I’m always wary of sports teams asking taxpayers to subsidize their profits. (To his credit, Malik hasn’t done that, at least not yet, though it’s usually part and parcel of these sorts of deals.) Still, it’s hard not to root for the guy—or for the soccer community he’s trying to expand.


I’ve written a bit in this newsletter about the tax reform proposal currently making its way through the Senate, and, while this is probably the biggest story in DC at the moment, I don’t want to belabor the point. It’s a terrible bill, rushed through a terrible process, that will finance tax cuts for the rich by harming the middle and working classes. It’s also likely to lead to calls for Social Security and Medicare cuts, the second Republicans pass the budget-buster and start to worry about the deficit again. As the Joint Committee on Taxation reported, only 44 percent of taxpayers would see their bills reduced by more than $500 in 2019; many of them are loaded already. Thirty-eight percent of taxpayers, meanwhile, would either pay the same or get a tax hike.
  • “But by 2027, just 16 percent of Americans would get a tax cut of at least $100. The ‘winners’ fall dramatically because the tax cuts for individuals go away in 2026 in the Senate GOP plan. Republicans argue that those tax cuts are likely to be extended by a future Congress.”

  • As Politico notes: “Some economists and corporate executives are already warning that simply lowering tax bills won’t necessarily cause companies to hire more people and pay them better. Instead, they could just wind up returning the extra cash to shareholders. That could leave President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans celebrating a short-term legislative win that hurts them in the long run, with bigger deficits and little to show for it.”
  • But the bill is also going to dramatically affect the health care system: “The Affordable Care Act survived three frontal assaults over the summer and into the fall. Now suddenly, it’s in the crosshairs again. But this time, it’s more of a sneak attack: Congressional Republicans have to find a way to pay for their tax cut, and they’ve stumbled upon a politically ingenious way to do so. If they repeal the individual mandate that is a cornerstone of the ACA, they’ll be able to come up with some $300 billion to offset their tax cuts. And by pulling out this key girder, they’ll be able to hobble their hated ACA without the effort of passing an unpopular repeal bill. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that pulling out the individual mandate will knock 4 million Americans off the health insurance rolls by 2019, and 13 million by 2027.”
  • And it could also affect Raleigh’s affordable housing plans, as the N&O’s Henry Gargan reports: “The tax bill passed by the U.S. House last week would drastically constrict efforts to build and improve homes for low-income families in the Triangle, according to local affordable housing experts. The Republican-backed bill would eliminate the tax-exempt status for bonds that allow private investors to be eligible for tax breaks. This kind of tax-credit financing is critical to large affordable housing efforts in urban areas, including the Triangle, where there is a shortage of homes for low-income residents. If the tax credits are eliminated, advocates say, it will be harder to find investors willing to finance affordable housing.”
WHAT IT MEANS: As the NYT writes, these tax cuts could fundamentally reshape American life.
  • “But as the bill has been rushed through Congress with scant debate, its far broader ramifications have come into focus, revealing a catchall legislative creation that could reshape major areas of American life, from education to health care. … Some measures are barely connected to the realm of taxation, such as the lifting of a 1954 ban on political activism by churches and the conferring of a new legal right for fetuses in the House bill—both on the wish list of the evangelical right. … The result is a behemoth piece of legislation that could widen American economic inequality while diminishing the power of local communities to marshal relief for vulnerable people—especially in high-tax states like California and New York, which, not coincidentally, tend to vote Democratic. … Economists and tax experts are overwhelmingly skeptical that the bills in the House and Senate can generate meaningful job growth and economic expansion. Many view the legislation not as a product of genuine deliberation, but as a transfer of wealth to corporations and affluent individuals—both generous purveyors of campaign contributions.”
Related: According to the Times, Trump wanted to slash to top rate for rich Americans even further but was talked out of it by Ivanka, who instead pushed for an expanded child tax credit.

This post was excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

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