Charlotte FC to install youth soccer fields in east Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte FC soccer team has announced that as part of its commitment to funding and promoting youth soccer, the organization will install 22 new soccer fields across Charlotte and the Carolinas.

The team has partnered with Ally on the project, and the first pair of “pitches” will be located at The Apartments at Sailboat Bay in east Charlotte.

The fields will provide a safe playing space for youth and adults in the community, where Charlotte FC community partner Street Soccer 658 currently serves more than 100 children. The nonprofit foundation will use the new fields at Sailboat Bay for its soccer programming.

“We are proud to work with Ally in producing our first mini-pitches for community use,” said Charlotte FC president Nick Kelly. “We believe in the power of soccer as a force for positive change, and the new fields at Sailboat Bay represent another stepping stone in our commitment to serving communities in Charlotte and across the Carolinas.”

Street Soccer 658 uses the sport to engage with Charlotte’s at-risk youth and adults. Currently, it uses a nearby parking lot for its programming.

The high-quality turf fields at Sailboat Bay will be completed and ready for use this spring, and a kickoff event is being planned to celebrate the unveiling. The fields will be available for open play for the apartment community, in addition to youth programming.

“There is not much field space in east Charlotte, and this area has so many great ‘sport for social change’ programs doing amazing work,” said Street Soccer 658 Endeavor Director Peter Fink. “By starting at Sailboat Bay, Charlotte FC is showing that they are really paying attention to the community and want to support these programs by filling a need.”

Charlotte FC president talks about ‘transformation of game day experience’

Charlotte FC president Nick Kelly uses the word “community” when he talks about the city’s new MLS team. He says it’s important for fans in the Carolinas to feel involved.

Kelly has only been in his position for six weeks, but he’s hit the ground running.

“We want to make sure everybody has a voice, and it’s my job to be the bastion of all the voices and put that on the field,” he told Channel 9 sports director Phil Orban.

Construction is already underway at the East Entrance at Bank of America Stadium, where Charlotte FC supporters will enter on game day. There will be new bars and restaurants, and a tunnel for players to come onto the field, or “pitch,” at midfield.

“By the time you leave the Panthers game in December of this year and then you go into your first soccer match, it will be a huge transformation of a game day experience,” he said.

The renovations come at a price, however, which has caused some fans to balk at the team’s decision to offer Preferred Seat Licenses (PSL) – a first in Major League Soccer.

Kelly said he’s heard the concerns and wants to assure fans that games will be accessible, with single-game tickets in the $20 range. Season ticket holders will also be able to see where the money is going.

“We’re investing right back into the stadium to make this soccer-specific. As we continue to grow, we have the space, so we’re making sure this is not only a great soccer experience, but we’re making sure it’s an opportunity to grow together.”

Soccer fans gear up for Charlotte FC inaugural season

The team’s season doesn’t start until 2022, but Charlotte FC fans are already gearing up for it.

At a recent popup event at NoDa Brewing, fans expressed their excitement as they connected and snapped up team merchandise.

Robert Delfave came to show his support. “I’ve been dying for a team. I want to be a part of it,” he said.

David Gusler, who help launch the soccer fan club Mint City Collective, said the event was something he envisioned two years ago.