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Home improvements: MLS-mandated upgrades transform BofA Stadium
Soccer renovations benefit Panthers as well
 
Published Thursday, April 15, 2021 6:20 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

PHOTO | TEPPER SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT
The Vault, a premium club space, is among the upgraded amenities for Bank of America Stadium with the arrival of Charlotte FC.

Landing a Major League Soccer franchise required changes to Bank of America Stadium.


Tepper Sports & Entertainment is undertaking a $50 million project leading up to Charlotte FC’s inaugural season in 2022. The club released renovation renderings today that include the addition of soccer-specific locker rooms, central player tunnel, premium club space called The Vault, field-level seats, upgrades to the East Gate and main concourse and a supporters’ bar just inside the gate.

Additional camera positions will also be added for television broadcasts. Renovations began last month and are scheduled to be completed by the 2022 season.


“A lot of these installations are strictly built for soccer, so much so to widening the East Gate to allow for a better ingress, egress,” Charlotte FC President Nick Kelly said. “We don’t have a huge problem there right now with the Panthers. This is very much planning for thousands of supporters trying to march in at once. This literally was a focus on making this more soccer-specific. We would be naïve to say that there won’t be benefits for the Panthers. The stadium as a whole is improved because of this but the focus was soccer-focused.”

Populous, an international design firm, is the project architect. Their work includes Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in England’s Premier League, Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena (NHL Vegas Golden Knights) and six FIFA World Cup stadiums. Rodgers Builders is the general contractor.


“David Tepper has invested millions in ensuring the Panthers have best-in-class facilities, and he’s doing exactly the same for Charlotte FC,” TSE Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Hart said in a team statement. “The stadium enhancements are designed to provide the ideal environment for soccer. We looked at Premier League venues and many other stadiums around the world to ensure this is a truly great experience for our players and fans.”


A league-mandated central tunnel for the players’ entrance will be located on the north touchline, taking a space currently held by workshop and storage facilities. It will be surrounded by The Vault, a tunnel club serving 250 fans. Field seating will be included for 125-150 people.


“The Vault is our take on a concept that has had success in Major League Soccer as well as stadiums throughout the world,” Hart said. “In addition to field-level seating along with the north sideline, fans will be at the heart of the action when the biggest stars in MLS make their way out of the locker room and onto the pitch.”


The player side of the tunnel leads directly from the pitch to a new home locker room. Renderings for the locker room include the crown in the club crest on the ceiling with multiple televisions throughout the locker room and the club crest above each locker and Charlotte FC written vertically between each locker.


“This is the best walkout in MLS,” Hart said. “We made a concerted effort to make this the best possible player walkout experience—for players and fans alike.”


The visiting locker room will be further from the tunnel, forcing the visitors to walk past The Gallery field suits and behind the west goal to reach the tunnel.


“This locker room will rival any soccer locker room in the world,” Hart said. “A soccer locker room is very different from an NFL locker room: there are very specific warm-up and training areas, and the space needs to be more intimate. Hence, it was very important for us to create separate locker rooms for soccer, giving a permanent presence for our players, coaches and staff.”


Said Charlotte FC Sporting Director Zoran Krneta: “The new locker room facilities put Bank of America Stadium among the world’s elite. This will bring extra motivation to our team, and in turn, offer a competitive advantage.”


Updates to the East Gate, which has the heaviest foot-traffic for the stadium, include a 210-foot-wide single LED screen. The statues of Sam Mills and Mike McCormack will remain but moved further apart to improve foot traffic flow into and out of the stadium.


“We felt compelled to create a very special, larger-than-life entrance gate and it will be one of the most iconic gate entries in Major League Soccer,” Hart said. “This central gate will act as a focal point for fans in their journey to the stadium, and for us, it helps to represent the unity of the crowd. Crucially, it will also serve as the main entrance for our most loyal fans in the supporters’ section.”


Fans will enter the East Gate and arrive at an updated main concourse, which will include two new taprooms. Touchless kiosks are included.

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