Charlotte Knights turning Truist Field into year-round business with new pub and more

CHARLOTTE — Last season, the Charlotte Knights returned to profitability after two straight seasons of operating deficits caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, the Triple A team expects to return to pre-pandemic revenue levels — $20 million — and maybe even surpass that number in 2023.

To do that, team executives are continuing to expand the popular winter festival at Truist Field, adding an exterior pub for year-round use and making a lot of smaller adjustments in how they sell baseball that could add up to significant overall gains.

Revenue was $17 million last season; the team did not disclose its profit margin.

All the changes come as the Knights face more competition for fans’ time and money, mainly from neighboring Bank of America Stadium. Ramped-up concert bookings and Major League Soccer team Charlotte FC have increased the number of game-day conflicts beyond an occasional Carolina Panthers exhibition game or college football opener.

The good news for the Knights: Attendance bounced back in 2022, up 31% over the Covid-marred 2021 season (minor-league teams didn’t play at all in 2020); the strong recovery occurred even as the first-year MLS club next door finished second in the league with 35,244 fans per home match; and new rules implemented last season in the minors by Major League Baseball helped shave off 30 minutes in average game times, a shift that encouraged more fans to stick around for the entire game.

On the latter point, concessions sales bear out the trend. Fans’ average spending on food and drink at Knights games grew to $27.37 in 2022, up from $25.18 the previous year and $20.39 in 2019. Team executives said price changes were minimal, meaning most of the gains were in volume.

During an hour-long interview with CBJ at the team’s Truist Field, Dan Rajkowski, the Knights’ chief operating officer, shared some of the adjustments planned for this season.

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