|Charlotte’s got a lot in the race for 30th Major League Soccer team|
|Commissioner: Tepper’s bid ‘to front of the line’|
|Published Saturday, November 16, 2019 12:01 am|
|MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER|
|Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber ranked Charlotte's expansion team bid led by Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper "front of the line" for the 30th franchise.|
To hear Major League Soccer boss Don Garber, the 30th franchise is Charlotte’s to lose.
Garber, MLS’s commissioner, told a media gathering last week in Seattle that the league’s expansion will take place in the next few months. Speaking at the annual State of the League address, he noted Charlotte’s bid, led by Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, is at the front of the line. Las Vegas and Phoenix are reportedly up for consideration as well.
“There are three markets we’re looking at, that our expansion committee is engaged with: Charlotte, Las Vegas and Phoenix,” Garber said. “It’s fair to say Charlotte has done a lot of work to move their bid to the front of the line. It starts with David Tepper, passionate about our sport and very passionate about Charlotte.
Tepper’s bid would put the Charlotte franchise in a retrofitted Bank of America Stadium similar to the format used by Atlanta United, MLS’s gold standard of recent expansion teams. Atlanta, which plays in Mercedes Benz Stadium, leads the league in attendance and holds the single-game record of more than 70,000. Two other MLS franchises, New England and 2019 champion Seattle, also play in NFL stadiums.
“There are a lot of things happening in Charlotte that are similar to things that are happening in Atlanta,” Garber said. “I think the Carolinas are great states for soccer, you know that from a women’s soccer perspective and a youth soccer perspective. Should we be able to move forward and end up with a team in Charlotte, I’m confident they would be successful.”
MLS, which has 24 clubs at present, has been on a growth spurt of late, with five new franchises accounted for after Sacramento was awarded an expansion team last month. Interest in getting in on the league’s expansion derby – at more than $250 million a franchise – is one of many signs of growth, Garber believes.
“[MLS] has transformed from a league on the rise to a league that has arrived as one of the great major leagues in our country, existing as one of the top leagues in the world,” he said.
Proof of MLS’s growth includes greater from franchise ownership groups, improved player talent and off-field investment in stadiums and training facilities.
“Our league is capitalizing on a momentum that exists behind the sport of soccer in North America,” Garber said. “When you have owners that are focused with enormous commitment and vision to try and have their teams embed within the community, their product on the field, build great facilities and training grounds.”
There’s reason to be optimistic about professional soccer in North America. And it just might include a team in Charlotte.
“We’re still young, our best days are still ahead,” Garber said. “The sport is growing in the U.S. and Canada in ways that we’re going to have to adapt to as we have even greater aspirations. I never thought we’d have teams with the values they have, the expansion fees, our ownership groups, media support, increased audience.”
|Having a MLS franchise in Charlotte would be transformative for the city and set the city of for success long-term.|
|Posted on November 18, 2019|
|Yes let's make this happen in Charlotte!!!!!|
|Posted on November 16, 2019|
|As a season ticket holder for the Panthers I am looking forward to having an MLS team here in Charlotte. As we try to attract headquarters and other companies to the area the more amenities will draw younger workers to the area also.|
|Posted on November 16, 2019|
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