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Offseason means busy season for football, soccer in Charlotte
Tepper talks stadium improvements, MLS hires
 
Published Wednesday, February 12, 2020 7:29 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | TROY HULL
Charlotte MLS owner David Tepper is spending his days preparing for the soccer team's debut in 2021 as well as enhancements to Bank of America Stadium.

David Tepper is talking about soccer.

The owner of Tepper Sports and Entertainment has a busy offseason, not only as owner of the Carolina Panthers, but also with Major League Soccer’s 30th franchise, which he bought last December.

“I had a two-hour soccer meeting today,” Tepper said Tuesday prior to announcing a donation of $120,000 from his foundation, John M. Belk Endowment and the Panthers to provide school supplies through Classroom Central to 800 elementary classrooms in 17 Title I Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Charlotte MLS, as the soccer operation is currently known, will begin play in 2021. They have announced four hires since Dec. 31: Zoran Krneta (sporting director), Marc Nicholls (technical director), Dustin Swinehart (director of community engagement) and director of scouting Thomas Schaling. They also updated www.CharlotteMLS2021.com to include a careers section. However, most of the positions listed focus on establishing a sales team, with roles such as group sales manager and group tickets coordinator. The club secured over 22,000 ticket deposits as of Jan. 23. Deposit options, which are refundable, include $50 supporters’ section, $75 general seating and $100 silver club level seating. Individuals are then asked how many lower level seats he or she expects to purchase.

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Tepper has spoken on his desire to build a new stadium with a retractable roof within a decade since buying the Panthers in 2018. However, updating the 25-year-old facility to accommodate football and soccer takes higher priority.

“We have to make other changes for soccer, which is a lot of stuff on the outside that you don’t see on the inside—center tunnels and things for camera stuff,” he said. “It’s a lot of different things like that. As far as a new stadium? I said last year…this thing is whatever it is. [Whether] it’s seven years or 10 years, you have to talk about this stuff at some point, and this stadium is old in the NFL. At some point, we’re going to have to do something major, because what you guys don’t appreciate is the maintenance [that] goes up every year on this thing. It’s just an older stadium that I offered to give back to the city, but they don’t want to take it—as an aside. But look, at some point we have to decide, and I say we again, if we want to put a new stadium here.”

A roofed stadium, Tepper noted, would make the city a viable candidate to host the Super Bowl, which he argued would generate tremendous economic impact for Charlotte.

“I do think if you ever put a dome on a stadium here, you would be on a constant [rotation] every seven years to have a game in North Carolina, and that is like, forget about it, knock the socks off economically,” Tepper said. “So, people have to make those sorts of decisions. They’re not my decision.”

The lower level of Bank of America Stadium is undergoing renovations, which are scheduled for completion prior to the Panthers’ preseason in August. The construction of 14 bunker suites started last month, which required removal of the first eight rows in the west end zone, which impacts 900 seats.

Construction impacts everything at Bank of America Stadium leading up to football season. Upcoming events include the Mexico against Czech Republic in a soccer friendly on March 26, concerts featuring Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, and the Rolling Stones, as well as sporting events such as the International Champions Cup, set for this summer.

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