By Ryan Bailey
The virtual fan event, featuring senior club leadership, presented a timeline for roster building, community initiatives and more.
CHARLOTTE—The path to Charlotte FC’s inaugural 2022 season, and the goals set out for the club’s debut campaign, were outlined during a Town Hall event for fans on Wednesday.
The virtual presentation—hosted by Charlotte FC President Nick Kelly—featured updates from team owner David Tepper, Tepper Sports & Entertainment President Tom Glick, Sporting Director Zoran Krneta, and Ally Chief Marketing and Public Relations Officer Andrea Brimmer.
Topics for discussion included the progress of building the squad, stadium renovations, game day broadcasts, uniforms and community outreach programs.
“We want to host the largest MLS match ever,” said Kelly when explaining Charlotte FC’s aims for the 2022 campaign. “Bank of America Stadium offers us a unique opportunity to eclipse the current league record. We want to beat that. It’s a challenge for our fans to show everyone how we represent the Carolinas.”
Kelly also outlined the ambition of averaging 30,000 fans per home game, which would fill the stadium’s lower bowl, and place the team among the top three in the league for attendance. Charlotte FC also aims to host a home playoff match in its first campaign, indicating a commitment to success on the field from the outset.
“Anything less than this will not be a successful first year in our eyes,” added Kelly. “This reinforces the fact that we are extremely ambitious.”
Team owner David Tepper joined the Town Hall and indicated his long standing passion for the sport by sharing personal photographs from his time coaching teams for his son and two daughters.
“When the season begins, the party is on in Charlotte, every time we play,” said Tepper. “That’s the sort of atmosphere we want to create.”
The team’s owner shared anecdotes about the increasing enthusiasm for soccer in Charlotte and promised that fans would have the opportunity to march to the stadium before the start of the 2022 season (in what he dubbed a “practice party”).
Sporting Director Zoran Krneta, meanwhile, noted that the announcement of the club’s first head coach will come “in the next four to five weeks.”
“We are very happy with our final couple of choices for the role, who share our values, and our vision of how the team will play,” said Krneta during the presentation at Charlotte FC’s Uptown offices.
Krneta explained advantages of having players on the roster well in advance of first kick and stressed the importance of a successful Academy program. “We are really hopeful that in the next couple of years, we will see first team players coming from the Carolinas,” he added.
Kelly and Glick took fans through the $50m stadium renovation project that will make Bank of America Stadium a “best-in-class experience,” and noted how the free over-the-air broadcast of matches will benefit those who cannot attend in person.
“We want to have the best local broadcast in all of sports,” said Kelly. “We want to make sure this feels like the Sunday Night Football of MLS; it will be the most elite broadcast.”
Kelly also took the opportunity to address a hot topic among the fanbase: the release of the inaugural Charlotte FC kit. The 2022 home jerseys are to be revealed in November, with a Community Kit following in January.
In accordance with Charlotte FC’s founding principles, a great emphasis is being placed upon community initiatives, in Charlotte and throughout the Carolinas.
“MLS is so community-focused and it’s such a community-based sport, so it’s very important that we get this right,” said Kelly.
The club has established three core community projects to promote upward mobility: firstly, Greater Goals will provide free after-school soccer and literacy programming for Title 1 elementary schools in Charlotte and the Carolinas, with coaching and mentors.
“When a child is involved with a mentor, they are 55% more likely to enroll in college,” said Community Engagement Director Dustin Swinehart during the presentation.
Secondly, the Pitches for Progress program will see the club install mini soccer pitches in at-risk communities. The first pitches will open soon in East Charlotte’s Sailboat Bay community.
And Charlotte FC’s Captains Academy will bring students from local high schools to monthly meetings to listen to and learn from leaders in our community.
In addition to initiatives that promote upward mobility—an area in which Charlotte ranks last among the 50 largest U.S. metro areas—the club is also establishing programs to combat food insecurity, given that one in five children in the Carolinas struggle with hunger. Focus will also be placed on military support, including help for wounded troops, military social services and family support.
Over 200 Season Ticket Members sent questions for Kelly to address in the Town Hall, with topics ranging from supporters groups coordination to ticket price concerns. “We want to make sure every Charlotte FC fan has the opportunity to come to a match,” said Kelly, while noting that affordable single-game ticket options will be available.
“We are what’s next in Major League Soccer,” said Kelly, while explaining exciting new technology-driven opportunities to improve the fan experience. “That’s not just because we’re up next, but because we truly believe we’re pushing the boundaries of what a professional soccer team should look like.”