CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The city of Charlotte has agreed to provide $110 million in hospitality funds over a period of years for Charlotte’s MLS franchise and modifications to Bank of America Stadium, sources tell Eyewitness News reporter Joe Bruno.
Additionally, the Charlotte MLS franchise will locate its headquarters and practice facilities on the Eastland Mall site.
Charlotte City Council members agreed to the deal in a closed session in November. The deal will have to be formally approved by the City Council in a public meeting at a later date.
According to documents obtained by Bruno, Mayor Vi Lyles wrote a letter to MLS Commissioner Don Garber on Nov. 21 announcing the city’s plans with David Tepper.
“We have a wonderful, collaborative relationship with Tepper Sports and are aligned on our long-term goals and unified in our vision,” Lyles wrote.
In addition to Eastland, Bank of America Stadium modifications and $110 million in hospitality funds, Lyles told Garber the city’s plans with Tepper include “significant and meaningful community benefits that will connect this new franchise with our residents across Charlotte and lift up youth sports in our communities and schools.” Lyles also told Garber the city will “work to build out an entertainment district connecting Charlotte’s center city and our Gateway District.”
Lyles concluded the letter by inviting Garber to come to Charlotte in December to deliver the announcement.
Last week, sources told Eyewitness News anchor Allison Latos that MLS is planning to announce Charlotte as the 30th franchise on Dec. 17. Sources tell Latos invitations will be sent out Thursday morning for the announcement. A press conference and party have been planned.
No decision has been made for a team name, colors or crest; however, Panthers President Tom Glick told Latos the process will involve heavy input from fans.
The day after Channel 9 reported Charlotte has officially landed an MLS franchise, records show DT Soccer applied for trademarks for eight potential team names: Charlotte FC, Charlotte Crown FC, Charlotte Fortune FC, Charlotte Monarchs FC, Charlotte Athletic FC, Charlotte Town FC, Carolina Gliders FC and All Carolina FC. Records show the applicant on the trademark documents is Stephen Argeris, VP and general counsel for the Panthers.
State law mandates hospitality funds be used for tourism purposes. They are prohibited from being used for things like affordable housing and policing.
The proposed plan is to make the Bank of America Stadium more soccer-friendly. Modifications could include additional locker rooms and a middle tunnel entrance to the field.
In 2013, the Charlotte City Council approved $87.5 million for Bank of America Stadium renovations. Earlier this year, South Carolina lawmakers agreed to provide the Panthers with $115 million in incentives to locate the team’s NFL headquarters in Rock Hill.
Last week, Garber said he hoped the new team would begin playing in 2021.
Read the letter Mayor Lyles wrote MLS Commissioner Garber:
November 21, 2019
Commissioner, Major League Soccer
450 5th Ave
New York, NY 10018
On behalf of the residents of Charlotte and the Charlotte City Council, we are excited to welcome a Major league Soccer team to Charlotte and are taking several major steps to be a welcoming} diverse and inclusive community to the league's 30th team.
We have a wonderful, collaborative relationship with Tepper Sports and are aligned on our long-term goals and unified in our vision.
Our plans together include:
- The Charlotte MLS franchise locating its headquarters and practice facilities on the Eastland site just north of downtown Charlotte
- Modifications to Bank of America Stadium to support MLS and provide a world-class fan experience
- Significant and meaningful community benefits that will connect this new franchise with our residents across Charlotte and lift up youth sports in our communities and schools
- $110 million in hospitality funds set aside to help ensure a successful venture over the next many years
- Continued work to build out an entertainment district connecting Charlotte’s center city and our Gateway District
As you know Charlotte is a one of the most dynamic, diverse and growing cities in the nation. The addition of Major League Soccer will significantly contribute to the energy of Charlotte's professional sports stage, as well as cement a tong-term relationship between Charlotte and MLS for many, many years to come.
We look forward to celebrating our city joining the MLS family, and I invite you to come to Charlotte in December to deliver that announcement.
VI Alexander Lyles
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