Report: Charlotte MLS Expansion Announcement Expected Tuesday

Bank of America Stadium

A Charlotte MLS expansion announcement is expected Tuesday at an event with Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, city officials, and other guests, according to a Charlotte Observer report.

There has been significant progress on the bid led by Tepper, which seeks to bring MLS’s 30th team to Charlotte. Last week, MLS commissioner Don Garber revealed that the league’s Board of Governors had given the go-ahead for the MLS expansion committee to engage in final negotiations with Tepper, but emphasized that there was still work needed to finalize the bid.

It now appears that an announcement could be imminent. Tepper Sports and Entertainment issued a press release Thursday on a special announcement will take place Tuesday morning at Mint Museum Uptown, with Tepper and Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles joined by unnamed “special guests.” The press release did not explicitly state the nature of Tuesday’s planned announcement, but there are plenty of signs linking it to MLS, according to the Observer:

Tepper, Lyles and additional “special guests” are gathering at the Mint Museum Uptown at 10 a.m. for a “major announcement,” according to a press release Thursday from Tepper Sports and Entertainment.

The Charlotte City Council is willing to set aside about $110 million in tourism funds to help bring the 30th expansion team to Charlotte, according to a letter that Lyles had sent MLS Commissioner Don Garber in November.

In addition to the letter, which was publicly released Wednesday, city spokesperson Britt Clampitt also sent a permit showing an event would take place in uptown around Levine Avenue of the Arts between Monday and Tuesday near the museum.

A permit to park production trucks on that street has been issued to Vista Worldlink, a media company that has worked with MLS on other events.

Lyles sent a letter to Garber last month indicating that Charlotte officials are willing to set aside $110 million in hospitality funds to help bring MLS to the city. Though Lyles did not say exactly how the money would be spent, it seems likely that the city would at least partner with Tepper on upgrading the Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium and/or constructing an off-site training academy. Any incentive package would be contingent upon city council approval, and the council has yet to take a public vote on the matter.

While Charlotte was floated as an MLS expansion candidate in the past–Marcus Smith led a bid that stalled in 2017 because public funds for a new stadium could not be secured–its profile has grown with the presence of Tepper, who purchased the Panthers last year. He has been spearheading the effort to make Charlotte the home of MLS’s 30th team, envisioning a successful shared MLS/NFL facility situation that emulates markets like Atlanta and Seattle.

Image of Bank of America Stadium courtesy Carolina Panthers. 

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