A Charlotte MLS expansion team will join the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in 2021, Panthers owner David Tepper, city, and MLS officials announced Tuesday.
Since purchasing the Panthers in 2018, Tepper has made the obtainment of an MLS expansion team one of his goals. This resulted in accelerated push to bring a club to Charlotte, facilitating Tuesday’s announcement that the expansion bid has been approved.
The MLS expansion club will share the Panthers’ home facility, Bank of America Stadium. Soccer-specific renovations will be made to the stadium ahead of the MLS club’s launch, including amenities such as locker rooms and player facilities, as well as what MLS billed in its announcement as “an innovative supporters’ section in the East End” of the venue. The announcement did not include a price tag for the renovations, or how they would be financed.
Technically, Charlotte is MLS’s 30th club, though it will actually begin play before expansion teams in St. Louis and Sacramento that were awarded earlier this year. It will be one of two teams to launch in 2021, joining Austin FC.
“We are thrilled to welcome Charlotte as Major League Soccer’s 30th club,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a press statement. “During the last two decades, Charlotte has experienced enormous energy and growth, which matches soccer’s explosive rise in popularity in the United States. We are pleased to add David Tepper to our ownership group and look forward to working with him and his entire organization to launch Major League Soccer in the Carolinas in 2021.”
“The awarding of an expansion team for Charlotte by Major League Soccer is a proud moment and significant for Charlotte and everyone in our community,” Tepper said in a press statement. “I’ve made clear for a long time that I have two goals as a team owner: sustained winning on the field and making a difference in the community. These will be our goals with Charlotte’s MLS team, and the work begins today.”
For Bank of America Stadium, the addition of an MLS club will result in an immediate influx in new event dates beyond the NFL slate. Tepper and the club’s backers will hope that Charlotte resembles the success stories among shared NFL-MLS facilities, such as those that have been playing it out in markets like Atlanta and Seattle.
Image courtesy Carolina Panthers.