|International friendly sets new stage for Charlotte as soccer venue|
|Mexico-Czech Republic match previewed|
|Published Wednesday, February 19, 2020 7:21 pm|
|PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY|
|Mexico National Team coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino was the focus of a press conference Wednesday at Bank of America Stadium previewing their March 26 match against Czech Republic.|
Charlotte’s soccer market will be tested next month.
Bank of America Stadium will host its first game since Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber announced Charlotte as the 30th expansion club in December. The as-yet unnamed team begins play in 2021. Garber mentioned how the league quietly tested the region’s support for the game over the last decade, and now MLS and Tepper Sports and Entertainment will see the impact of the announcement on March 26 when the Mexican national team plays Czech Republic to kick of the former’s 2020 U.S. Tour.
“I’m less concerned about what that game looks like than I was two years ago,” Garber said during December’s announcement.
Mexico played here last June in a Concacaf Gold Cup group stage match as well as in 2015 and 2011. El Tri’s inaugural match here took place in March 2010—a scoreless draw against Iceland. Bank of America Stadium hosted the Gold Cup, International Champions Cup and the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2019. ICC has an agreement to return here for the next four years.
“We wanted to be sure that there is a vibrant soccer market that has fans interested in attending matches,” Garber said. “When we’ve gone around the country expanding, before we do that with our marketing company, Soccer United Marketing, we own the rights to the Gold Cup and to the Mexican national team. We want to see how those games do. What’s the ticket pricing? Who are the fans? We have a pretty good understanding of who has attended those matches. We have a pretty good indicator of what it should look like going forward.”
Mexican national team head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino held a press conference Wednesday at the stadium to preview the upcoming match. He knows the landscape of MLS expansion as the inaugural head coach of Atlanta United for their first two seasons, which concluded with winning the MLS Cup in 2018. He also managed the MLS All-Star game, which Atlanta hosted that year.
“They had a very good vision of what they wanted to do [in Atlanta], and that vision was in line with the things I wanted to do,” Tata said.
Comparison between Charlotte and Atlanta as regional rivals arose during the Charlotte MLS announcement. Continued comparison springs up regarding the markets augmenting the assets of Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons and United and Tepper, owner of the Carolina Panthers and the MLS side. The similarities end there, Tata said, and Charlotte’s path as an MLS franchise will be uniquely its own.
“There are more ways than one to launch an expansion team,” he said. “All I can do is give my point of view.”
For more information: www.MexTour.org
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