CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Carolina Panthers Owner David Tepper met with Major League Soccer officials in New York City Monday to discuss the possibility of bringing an MLS expansion team to Charlotte.
According to MLS, an ownership group from the Charlotte bid led by Tepper visited MLS’s offices on Monday to provide an update on their bid.
“In addition [to the St. Louis visit], representatives from Charlotte’s MLS expansion bid visited MLS’s offices today to provide an update,” the league’s statement read. “Major League Soccer also continues to work closely with the ownership group representing Sacramento’s expansion bid, and we expect to meet again soon."
On July 9, Panthers Team President Tom Glick said he would be joining Tepper in New York for the meeting. Glick helped launch the MLS team New York City FC in February 2015, and served as its president for a year.
MLS officials provided updates on several expansion bids Monday, including the fact that the ownership group from St. Louis made a formal presentation to the league’s expansion committee.
“The ownership groups from Charlotte, Las Vegas, Sacramento, St. Louis and other potential expansion markets are scheduled to attend MLS All-Star week festivities later this month in Orlando,” the statement continued.
Officials say there are 24 teams currently competing in the 2019 MLS regular season, with three more set to join the league in the next two years.
Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC will begin play in 2020, while Austin FC will begin play in 2021, leaving three spots to be determined.
Last week, Charlotte announced a major deal between Relevent Sports Group (RSG) and Bank of America Stadium to bring the International Champions Cup (ICC) to Charlotte for the next five years. Arsenal takes on ACF Fiorentina on July 20, 2019.
Charlotte will also host the 2019 House of Soccer, a premium, high-level entertainment event that brings together the community, athletes, clubs, artists and influencers to highlight soccer culture. The event will be held July 19- 20 at Romare Bearden Park and S. Mint Street.
“Charlotte’s reputation as a soccer city is driven by the passion of our fans, who continue to display their commitment to the game by attending matches and playing soccer at all ages, and the growing drumbeat of fans calling for a top-level domestic team,” Glick said about Tuesday’s announcement.
Major League Soccer has been a constant topic in conversations with David Tepper since his opening press conference as the new owner of the Carolina Panthers.
The Carolina Panthers hosted two focus group sessions in February.
That forum gave participants the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions on a potential MLS team playing at Bank of America stadium, as well as potential seating options that could be available for MLS matches.
The Panthers have launched several exploratory projects regarding a possible MLS expansion. The team held a meeting in Charlotte in March to gauge public interest in a team, and sent a survey to season ticket holders about a potential team name.
The survey also suggested that Bank of America Stadium could feature “a more intimate soccer configuration to create an exciting game-day atmosphere for MLS home matches.”
A stadium plan, along with other criteria such as corporate sponsorship commitments, is a requirement the MLS has for all bidding groups.
Tepper has also discussed the renovated stadium as the home field of a Charlotte MLS team.
WBTV spoke with Jay Landskroener, one of the leaders of the Mint City Collective, to talk about the possibility of MLS coming to Charlotte. The Mint City Collective is a group of soccer fans who want to create awareness and a buzz around bringing MLS to Charlotte.
“I think soccer has a way, unlike a lot of different sports, to bring many different cultures together. We want to bring as many people from within different communities that support the sport together. We want them to have a team of their own, a team from Charlotte that’s here,” Landskroener said..