Charlotte

MLS expansion delay
Getty Images

MLS delay arrival of Charlotte, St. Louis, Sacramento franchises

Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) MLS expansion delay: Major League Soccer has delayed the first seasons of expansion teams in Charlotte, North Carolina; St. Louis; and Sacramento, California, by one year each because of the coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

MLS announced the specific details on the expansion delay: Charlotte will start play in 2022, and St. Louis and Sacramento will take the field in 2023, the league said.

Austin, Texas, remains on track to begin next year, when MLS will have 27 teams. MLS said Austin FC had made significant progress before the pandemic.

“It is important for each club to take the necessary time to launch their inaugural MLS seasons the way their fans and communities deserve,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “With the extra year to make up for what has been a challenging 2020, these teams will be well-positioned for their debuts and for long-term success.”

MLS teams had played two games each when the coronavirus caused a shutdown on March 12. Twenty-four teams are part of a resumption tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, that started July 8. Dallas and Nashville withdrew after numerous players tested positive for COVID-19.

Here are the full details for their ‘MLS is Back’ tournament in Orlando in July and August, with 24 teams taking part at the Wide World of Sports complex at the Disney resort.

The tournament kicked off on July 8 with a group stage, then the Round of 16 will take place on July 25-28, the quarterfinals on July 30-August 1, semifinals on August 5-6 and the final on August 11.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Charlotte MLS club files trademarks for eight potential names

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It is being heavily reported that Charlotte is the next city to earn a club in the rapidly expanding Major League Soccer landscape, and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has taken the next step towards that possibility.

The new club needs a name, and they appear to be nearing a selection. Tepper filed for eight different name trademarks, according to multiple reports, including The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue who confirmed the filings were made under Tepper’s Panthers address.

Here is the list of names he filed copyright requests for:

“Charlotte FC” would be a bare-bones and generic name that follows in the footsteps of recent MLS expansion clubs such as Orlando City SC, NYCFC or LAFC. Others are a little more colorful, including “Carolina Gliders FC” or “Charlotte Monarchs FC,” while a few others like “Charlotte Town FC” or “Charlotte Athletic FC” clearly call forth thoughts of smaller English clubs.

Rodrigue speculated that the relative lack of “Carolina” encompassing names is potentially due to the possibility of an expansion bid from Raleigh down the road, and a Carolina team would potentially provide an unnecessary roadblock to that future prospect. There is a clear lack of region-encompassing names in Major League Soccer, with “New England Revolution” the only example, and there’s no real reason to break that mold with another potential bid city down the road.

Which name is your favorite? What would you have gone with if you could name the club?

MLS hopes to put 30th team in Charlotte, North Carolina

Getty Images
3 Comments

NEW YORK — Major League Soccer will try to reach an agreement for its 30th team to be Charlotte, North Carolina.

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper made a presentation to MLS owners Thursday when they met in a hotel near the Brooklyn Bridge. Tepper would own the team, which would play at Bank of America Stadium, home of his NFL franchise. MLS Commissioner Don Garber all but confirmed the expansion fee will be $300 million.

“The MLS board authorized the MLS expansion committee to enter into what I expect to be final negotiations with David to have Charlotte be our 30th team,” Garber said. “No formal approval was granted today. What was approved was the expansion committee to now meet with David and his his staff to try to finalize an agreement.”

Charlotte would be the third MLS team to share a stadium in a long-term relationship with the NFL, joining Seattle and Atlanta.

“The remaining issues with Charlotte are related to their stadium and ensuring that we’re going to be able to put together a dynamic in that stadium that will be up to the standards of all of our current soccer stadiums,” Garber said.

He would not say whether MLS hoped to announce the team at a news conference in Charlotte on Dec. 17.

Tepper is attempting to obtain city funding for alterations at Bank of America Stadium.

“I don’t know that I’m confident, but I’m hopeful.” Garber said.

Asked about the expansion fee, Garber said: I’ve heard some of those numbers. They wouldn’t be wrong.”

Garber: Charlotte tops list of expansion hopefuls

Getty Images
1 Comment

After recently announcing that the future 29th team in Major League Soccer would be Sacramento Republic, the expansion train could head back to the east coast for the landmark 30th franchise.

At his annual MLS State of the League speech, Don Garber revealed that Charlotte, North Carolina has jumped to the top of the MLS expansion race. David Tepper, owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, has been leading the bid to bring MLS to Charlotte. The city currently hosts a USL franchise, Charlotte Independence, though they play their games at the Sportsplex in Matthews, North Carolina, 15 miles from the city center.

[READ: Top PL Storylines: Week 12]

Phoenix and Las Vegas were also mentioned on the shortlist as MLS expansion shows no signs of slowing down. MLS has already announced teams 24-29, despite none of them having kicked a ball yet.

Tepper’s bid is attractive to MLS for many reasons. First, he’s a multi-billionaire, the founder and president of a hedge fund, and bringing Tepper in adds to the list of deep-pocketed MLS owners. Secondly, it fills another open space geographically for the league, which has no teams between Atlanta and Washington D.C. in the Southeast U.S. And third, Tepper appears interested in renovating his downtown NFL arena, Bank of America Stadium, to regularly host soccer games as well. Each year, at least one match from the International Champions Cup is held in Charlotte, with mixed crowds over the years.

 

According to reports from the Charlotte Observer, Tepper initially asked the city of Charlotte to fund, or help pay for a brand-new stadium, despite the Bank of America Stadium opening as recently as 1996. However, per a report in September, Tepper is now asking for the city to pay for stadium renovations and upgrades, as well as helping create a practice facility and headquarters for the new MLS club. The report states Tepper is requesting the city pay for stadium upgrades, while he covers the cost of operating the team and paying the estimated $200-million plus expansion fee, which is standard for all MLS investor-operators.

It’s unclear whether the city will agree to Tepper’s demands or wave them off, but from where Tepper is starting, it appears there’s still a long way to go until Charlotte will have MLS-dedicated facilities.

That being said, if New York City FC has shown us anything, it’s that an MLS team can still survive as a tenant in someone else’s stadium and on someone else’s fields. Only recently, more than a half dozen years after NYCFC was founded, did it move into its own practice facility.

MLS give update on expansion situation

St Louis FC
5 Comments

Major League Soccer has issued an update on expansion, and it appears that the Charlotte bid is making a strong case for itself.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber revealed that the league is in “advanced talks” with both St. Louis and Sacramento who many see as the favorites to be awarded teams 28 and 29. Garber also revealed those two teams hope to begin play in MLS in 2022.

At the last MLS board of governors meeting in Los Angeles in April the league was given permission to talk with the groups from Sacramento and St. Louis about a deal, while the board will meet again in December. In the next 30 days they plan to visit both Charlotte and Sacramento after visiting St. Louis two weeks ago.

“We are in very advanced discussions in St. Louis, and we really appreciated the details that they provided,” Garber said in Orlando, speaking from the MLS All-Star Game. “We look forward to continuing those discussions in the weeks and months ahead.”

With no timeframe given for when teams 28-30 will be announced, there is no rush here. But it appears the STL bid led by an ownership group fronted by Enterprise Holdings Foundation president Carolyn Kindle Betz which includes St. Louis FC owners, is way ahead in this race.

It also seems like Charlotte and Sacramento are now level-pegging, which is a little surprising given the fact that billionaire Ron Burkle is now the majority owner fuelling Sacramento Republic’s expansion bid. Garber did say talks with Burkle were “positive” and there is an expectation that both MLS and Sacramento are working through things at a sensible pace.

When asked specifically about STL and Sacramento, Garber revealed that talks are down the line with both but he also revealed that Charlotte’s bid, led by Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, is making headway.

“We are in advanced talks with both of them. They are not exclusive talks. Exclusive means we’re not talking to anybody else,” Garber said. “It doesn’t mean anybody’s leapfrogging anybody else. We are in discussions with Charlotte, but we are also in discussions with Sacramento and St. Louis.”

Where has this Charlotte bid come from?

Tepper has spoken before about his aim to have an MLS team play at the Bank of America Stadium downtown, and Carolina Panthers president Tom Glick was former president of New York City FC. It is clear Charlotte is in talks, but not having a soccer-specific stadium may be hurting its plan a little.

“We are primarily in the business of having teams that play in soccer specific stadiums,” Garber said. “His plan does not include one. So it’s not something that we’re running with very quickly until we’re very, very, very comfortable that that could be a different path for us. And we’re intrigued by that path because of the success we’ve been having in Atlanta and in Seattle and [the Chicago Fire’s impending] move down to Soldier Field. … It’s an aspect of his bid that puts it sort of in a different path.”

Whatever happens, MLS will not be short of options when it comes to this round of expansion, or even beyond that as 32 still seems like the “magic number” for the league.

Reports suggest that the bid teams from Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Phoenix Rising FC, San Diego and Raleigh were all in Orlando for meetings with MLS around the ASG, which suggests that potential expansion cities San Antonio, Detroit and Tampa Bay are now out of the picture.

Garber isn’t trying to rush into awarding the next expansion franchises and that is a very good idea for everyone involved.

“These are lifetime decisions for a board to make and for an investor to make,” Garber said. “There’s a process that we go through that is really really time consuming. These are massive commitments at this point. When you get involved in an MLS team now with the [$200 million] expansion fee and the stadium, it’s a minimum of $500 million dollars. And finalizing those deals take time. Both of those teams [St. Louis and Sacramento] are looking at coming in 2022, so we’ve got plenty of time for them to get their projects finalized.”