CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Major League Soccer officially announced that Charlotte will be the home of the league’s 30th team Tuesday morning.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber joined Panthers owner David Tepper and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles for the special announcement at the Mint Museum in uptown Charlotte.
“It’s an historic day for soccer in north America, and it’s an historic day for the Queen City,” Garber said during the announcement.
He added that the announcement never would have happened without Tepper and Mayor Lyles.
“It all started with David,” Garber said, noting it took the Panthers owner, public partnership with the City and community support to make this happen.
Tepper joked that when he called Mayor Lyles to tell her the news, “It was the most expensive gift I’ve ever given a women.”
Mayor Lyles outlined the economic opportunities the new team brings, specifically with the headquarters coming to the old Eastland Mall site and the development in Centre City.
“It’s a new opportunity for transformation on the entire east side,” Lyles said.
In April, MLS announced plans for the league to grow to 30 teams.
The league currently has 24 teams competing in 2019, with Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC joining in 2020 followed by Austin FC in 2021. MLS awarded St. Louis with the league’s 28th team in August and Sacramento with the league’s 29th team in October. Both teams will join MLS in 2022.
Garber previously told reporters that Charlotte had moved its way to the front of the line with its bid for an MLS team. After a Dec. 5 meeting in Brooklyn, Garber spoke more about the future of MLS in the city of Charlotte.
“We reviewed several expansion markets today, and the group from Charlotte, including David Tepper and Tom Glick, met with the board and made a very impressive presentation," Garber said.
On Dec. 5, Garber spoke about why Charlotte is an attractive market for MLS.
“We are very, very bullish about the Charlotte market. We believe it’s a growing city on the rise, and one that’s just got so much opportunity for us to be able to continue to expand our league,” Garber said. “We’ve got issues that need to get resolved as it relates to the stadium. We’ve got confidence in David Tepper and his management group, and confidence in the city leaders that they’ll continue to want to support the efforts to bring Major League Soccer to Charlotte.”
WBTV reported that Charlotte City Council members have reached a general consensus to provide public funding to renovate Bank of America stadium to equip it for an MLS team. Sources told WBTV that the renovation package is not yet a done deal, as there are still significant aspects that need to be finalized. Additionally, council has not voted publicly on the financing yet and sources tell WBTV there is not a set date yet for when that will happen.
On Nov. 21, Mayor Vi Lyles sent a letter to Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber welcoming MLS to the Queen City. She said the city was working with Tepper Sports and their “plans together include”... “modifications to Bank of America Stadium to support MLS and provide a world-class fan experience” and “$110 million in hospitality funds set aside to help ensure a successful venture over the next many years.” Sources tell WBTV that the $110 million mentioned in the letter is not a commitment and that details still need to be ironed out.
Last week, WBTV reported that trademark applications filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office showed the potential list of Charlotte MLS team names. The applications were filed by Panthers Vice President and General Counsel Stephen Argeris on Dec. 6.
The company that applied for the trademarks was “DT Soccer, LLC” with a headquarters listed at Bank of America Stadium. The company is registered in Delaware.
The trademarks would cover a comprehensive list of goods and products including "Posters, decals, bumper stickers, printed media guides relating to a professional soccer team, printed event admission tickets, magazines featuring information in the field of soccer and more.
In October, a source confirmed to WBTV that Charlotte city leaders and Tepper were exploring the possibility of an MLS team headquarters and training facility at the old Eastland Mall site.
Major League Soccer has been a constant topic in conversations with David Tepper since his opening press conference as the new owner of the Carolina Panthers.
“Charlotte’s reputation as a soccer city is driven by the passion of our fans, who continue to display their commitment to the game by attending matches and playing soccer at all ages, and the growing drumbeat of fans calling for a top-level domestic team,” Panthers Team President Tom Glick said in July.
During the press conference, it was announced that a celebration would be held at Brewers on Yancey Road on Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m.