When the MLS announced Charlotte would be the 30th team I was overjoyed and couldn’t believe the day had finally come. I assumed we wouldn’t start playing until 2022, or even 2023, but when it was revealed that we would be starting play in 2021 I was extremely shocked and a tad concerned. Make no mistake, that is really soon. When you stop and consider all things needing to happen between now and March 2021, it seems crazy and overwhelming.
At the time of writing this, we now have less than 11 months until the start of the 2021 season. That’s 11 months to finalize a logo and color scheme, hire directors, a coaching staff, scout/draft/buy players to fill our roster, complete stadium renovations, get/announce our kits, find/build a headquarters, find/build practice facilities, finalize ticket pricing and sell season tickets. Did I mention that we don’t even have a team name yet?
To put things into perspective, Austin FC who will be also joining the league in 2021 has had an extra year to get their affairs in order and build out their organization. They were announced on January 15th, 2019.
The key will be getting the right personnel quickly … individuals that have the experience. This has to run smoothly as we don’t have a lot of time built in for things to come off the rails. I keep thinking about Cinncinatti with all of their problems and also Nashville with their stadium issues.
There are a lot of tasks to do in a short amount of time, so buckle up buttercup … you bought the ticket … now it’s time to take the ride.
There are a lot of great articles and podcasts out there already that cover most of the events and dealings with the team, but I thought it would be helpful to try and put it all in one place to make it easier to digest.
Here’s is a rough outline of when we should see team announcements
Here Is What We Know So Far
Bought the Franchise for $325 million
*A note on David Tepper and how owning an MLS Franchise works:
There is a misconception that David Tepper owns the new MLS team. MLS teams don’t have owners in the classic sense, they have Investor-Operators. MLS Investor-Operators are all financially invested in the same business entity, Major League Soccer, LLC. They all made their initial investment into the LLC, and they all receive a share of the profits if the MLS generates a profit, or they can write off their share of the losses, should MLS lose money in a given year.
Being an investor in Major League Soccer entitles you to operate one of the teams owned by the league. Investor-Operators are entitled to earn certain revenues directly. This can include getting revenue from selling local broadcast rights, merchandise sold inside of the stadium, local sponsor partnerships, and all the general parking and stadium revenue. Certain items do require the Investor-Operator to send a portion of their revenue to MLS, such as 30% of ticket sales and between 25% and 44% of the money earned through player transfer fees. MLS directly takes all revenue from national broadcast rights, league-level sponsorships (like Adidas), and online merchandise sales.
I could write 50,000 words on the pros and cons of running the league like this, but I will save that for another time.
March 2021 (Nashville SC played their first game this season on February 29th)
Our new team will play around 34 regular season matches * this may change slightly* (around 17 home matches and 17 away matches). The season will run roughly from March until October, with playoffs ending in November.
*Update*: With the coronavirus scare, MLS has now suspended play for 30 days. This comes after teams have only played 2 matches. Hopefully, the season can get back on track but if this crisis continues I’m not sure of the short-term and long-term effects this will have on the teams, the league or even next season.
Team Name: Spring announcement
(These are the names that have been put forward)
Charlotte Athletic FC
Charlotte Crown FC
Charlotte Fortune FC
Charlotte Monarchs FC
Charlotte Town FC
Carolina Gliders FC
All Carolina FC
I would be ok with just the bland Charlotte FC but could go in for Charlotte Crown FC or maybe Charlotte Town FC
Team Logo: Spring Announcement
As long as we don’t have the folks that worked on the Chicago Fire rebrand we should be ok here.
*edit: It is the people that worked on the Chicago Fire rebrand…
However, they also worked on Miami’s brand so all hope is not lost!
Team Colors: Spring Announcement
It will be very interesting to see if they follow the Carolina Panthers color palette or go a whole different route. I think it would be simpler to keep with the Panthers’ color scheme from a branding perspective, and with the color scheme of the stadium, it would be easier to keep it similar.
Kit Release: Fall
The timeline says Fall 2020, but trust me … there will be plenty of leaked kit posts leading up to the actual release. We do know is that Adidas will be the manufacturer. In 2017, MLS and Adidas agreed to a six-year deal to be the official apparel supplier for the league, its clubs, and their affiliated youth programs. Though financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, the total value is $700 million according to a source with knowledge of the agreement. The six-year term runs through 2023, meaning MLS will be able to negotiate its next league apparel partnership ahead of the start of the 2026 World Cup.
Again, with the coronavirus scare, the announcement of the team name and logo have been pushed back. There were rumors they were really close to announcing (mid-March) but with everything going on, it looks more like April-ish.
The Competitions We Will Participate In:
Ryan Bailey (who has been writing articles for the official Charlotte MLS website and who you really need to follow on Twitter @RyanJayBailey) has a great article that outlines all the competitions that our new team will be included in next year.
- U.S. Open Cup
- CONCACAF Champions League
- Leagues Cup
- Campeones Cup
- The Queen City Cup
You can read Ryan’s full article here
Zoran will be responsible for all on-field operations, recruiting coaches and professional support staff, identifying and signing players for the MLS roster, and creating a youth development academy and related youth player initiatives.
You can read Ryan Bailey’s full interview with Zoran here
This is an interesting choice, to say the least. I’m hoping his background can translate to success and overcompensate for the lack of experience in that specific role.
Nicholls, who comes to Charlotte from his role as director of player development with the Seattle Sounders, is responsible for overseeing the inception and development of Charlotte MLS. The development of the academy will form a significant portion of his responsibilities.
Ryan interviews Marc on developing a club philosophy and “finding the Charlotte way of doing things.” You can read that here
Director of Community Engagement:
Swinehart, who played professional soccer in Charlotte for 12 years, will spearhead the club’s effort to create a positive and long-term impact in the region.
You can read Ryan’s interview with him here
Director of Scouting:
You have to read this article and hear about how Thomas got his start playing the very popular video game, Football Manager. It’s fascinating and inspiring!
Read the full story here
Team Manager: Summer
I had a feeling this would come late spring / early summer after the European season’s end but I wonder if they already have someone in mind for this position. No, it won’t be Tata Martino.
Dan Lock has over a decade of experience in developing, mentoring and managing coaches at youth levels. He has held director and management positions at the MLS academy level and boasts a successful track record of elite talent development and educational leadership.
“Dan is a perfect fit for our new academy project,” says Charlotte MLS Technical Director Marc Nicholls. “He has a wonderful coaching pedigree, as well as a background in coach mentorship. His proven ability in the area of club partnerships and affiliations aligns perfectly with our mission to be an inclusive club for the Carolinas.”
Read the full story here
Community Engagement Manager:
Herrera, who played professional soccer in the city for the Charlotte Eagles and Charlotte Independence, will work with Director of Community Engagement Dustin Swinehart to encourage the growth of the sport through community and charity initiatives.
“I feel honored to be a part of this team and give back to the community that has embraced me and my family,” Herrera said. “I’m looking forward to serving this community and increasing the positive impact of our MLS team.”
Read the full story here
Head of Analytics:
Simpson has previously worked as a scout for the Seattle Sounders and most recently served as Technical Director at the NC Fusion, where he shaped the club’s philosophy and implemented an evidence-based approach for players and coaches.
“Our club will embrace data and analytics,” said Charlotte MLS Technical Director Marc Nicholls. “It’s very important that we use an evidence-based approach to aid the decision-making process. Mark will be integral to that vision, and brings a very practical approach to a complex process.”
Read the full story here
Charlotte MLS Host & Producer:
Blackmon now joins Charlotte MLS as a Host and Producer, and will also work closely with the MLS Community Relations Team.
“I jumped at the opportunity to get back to the game that I love. I played soccer from when I was 8 years old, right through college. I still love playing, but I get very competitive. I have spent a lot of time in Charlotte covering the Panthers, and I love it here, so when the opportunity was presented to me, I thought, “OK, the people involved in this team are fantastic, I played soccer and I’ve been to this city so much. So why would I not want to be a part of this?”
Read the full story here
US Soccer Development Academy:
In a very exciting announcement, Charlotte MLS has been invited to join the United States Development Academy. The Development Academy sets the standard for elite environments for youth soccer clubs nationwide and is a part of U.S. Soccer’s global leadership position in youth soccer, which impacts thousands of players.
“We are delighted to unify the city of Charlotte, and the home-grown territories of North Carolina and South Carolina by providing a fully-funded academy program,” said Charlotte MLS Technical Director Marc Nicholls.
What is the Charlotte MLS Academy?
The Charlotte MLS Academy will develop some of the most talented soccer players in the nation, with the aim of earning a professional contract with Charlotte MLS.
The mission is to develop Homegrown Players comparable to the world’s best. As the program develops, the academy will aim to provide an average of two players per year to MLS.
The club will emphasize the holistic development of each individual, producing well-rounded individuals who become valuable members of the community.
Is there a cost to participate?
The Charlotte MLS Academy is a fully-funded program for all selected full-time participants.
What is the selection process?
The club has established a scouting identification process in order to observe talented players.
Players may also register their interest in Charlotte MLS Academy via the Player Interest form.
Where will Charlotte MLS Academy players come from?
Charlotte MLS’ Homegrown territory is defined as the states of North Carolina and South Carolina.
Players will come from this territory and also available non-Homegrown Territories, per MLS Player Development guidelines.
Will there be a Homestay or Residency Program?
Yes, Charlotte MLS will provide opportunities to high-potential prospects from both the Homegrown and non-Homegrown Territories.
What age groups will the Charlotte MLS Academy feature?
The age groups have yet to be determined for the 2020-21 season. The club is committed to operating a fully comprehensive academy program.
What leagues will the Charlotte MLS Academy play in?
The academy will participate in the US Soccer Development Academy league, exclusive MLS competitions, and international events.
Where will the Charlotte MLS Academy train?
The location of the Academy is yet to be determined. More information will be available in due course.
What will the time commitments be for Charlotte MLS Academy players?
Typically, academy prospects will participate in evening practices four nights a week, plus games (home and away) on weekends.
The academy season will run year-round, with targeted breaks that align with the school calendar.
Make no mistake, this is a massive hire for the club and what a lofty title! It’s great to see they are reaching out and bringing in top talent, talent known throughout the footballing world. I’m curious to see if Walsh will have any say so on the new Team Manager. I would have thought the team would already have someone in mind, but with the role that Walsh has now, he will certainly have some sway.
Once described by Sir Alex Ferguson the “most influential person in the Premier League,” Walsh has forged a reputation as one of the most successful scouts in world soccer.
“I am very much looking forward to working with a team of like-minded professionals who are driven with the same purpose of making Charlotte MLS successful,” Walsh said. “It gives me the opportunity to be part of something special and I am truly excited for the challenge. Our aim is to give the soccer fans of Charlotte a team of which they can be truly proud.”
Read the full story here
Season Ticket Pricing:
If you haven’t already, reserve your season tickets now. https://charlottemls2021.com/
Right now there are an estimated 22,000 + reserved season-ticket deposits. During the 2019 MLS season, only Atlanta United and the Seattle Sounders averaged more than 30,000 fans per game, according to Soccer Stadium Digest.
Here are a few FAQ’s o Season Tickets:
- How much deposit? Lower Level Deposits will be split into three different tiers: Supporters Section – $50; General Seating – $75; Silver Club Level Seating – $100. Only one deposit is required regardless of the desired number of seats. When securing your deposit, you will be asked to select how many seats you anticipate purchasing.
- Are deposits refundable? Yes
- What are the differences between the three tiers? The Supporters Section will be located in the Lower Level behind the East Goal. This is where the stadium cheers begin so expect to stand the entire match. General Seating will be located in the Lower Level throughout the 100 and 200 level sections, with the exception of the Supporters Area. Silver Club Level Seats are located in the top half of the Lower Bowl at Bank of America Stadium, stretching corner to corner on each sideline. All of the seats are outdoors and members will have exclusive access to our climate-controlled concourse. Additionally, a Silver Club Level seat will include some level of Food & Beverage in the annual season ticket cost.
- How much are Season Ticket Memberships? Full pricing details will be announced prior to seat selection. Interest-free payment plans will be available. The deposit amount will be applied towards your Membership. Additional Membership benefits will be announced closer to the inaugural season.
- When will seat selection take place? A representative will be in contact with additional details in the coming months.
- Will Luxury Suites be Available? Yes, Please contact Tickets@CharlotteMLS2021.com if you are interested in owning a Luxury Suite for Charlotte MLS.
Here is Atlanta United’s current ticket pricing. Take this with a grain of salt as I don’t think Charlotte’s will be quite as pricey.
For example: In 2017, season-ticket prices for an 18-game package in the Supporters Section were $360, or $20 per game. In 2018, season-ticket prices for an 18-game package were $504, or $28 per game, in the Supporters Section. If you look at 2020 it’s now $558, or $31 per game. Again this is just for the Supporters Section. Club Level or Sideline tickets will be a lot more.
Headquarters and Practice Field:
Part of the $110 Million that the city of Charlotte is putting up is to go towards a new Headquarters, supposedly where the old Eastland Mall once was. There has been some confusion about the $110 Million. This does not come from the local taxpayer, your taxes will not go up because of the team. The $110 million will come from tourism tax. These funds are also earmarked and can only be used by the city for entertainment purposes. These funds are not and cannot be allocated for schools or roads etc. so when your non-soccer loving friends run their mouth about paying for the team or how taxes should go to something else … you can kindly refute that.
Again, Ryan through the official MLS site has some great articles laying out how we could potentially build out our roster for 2021.
Want to get more involved? Maybe you are new to the area? Maybe you want to have some beers with like-minded people and speculate WILDY about signings and tactics? Maybe you want to talk shit about Atlanta United? Here are a few groups to enable you to live your best life.
*I’m sure there are a lot more out there now and even more will pop up, but here are a few to get you started*
Mint City Collective: https://mintcitycollective.com/
The Queens Firm: https://www.facebook.com/queensfirm/
Charlotte MLS Discussion Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/404774933743198/
Mint City Soccer Show: https://anchor.fm/mint-city-collective
The Collective Voice Podcast: https://anchor.fm/mintcityvoice
Extra Time (Offical Podcast of MLS):https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/extratime-the-official-podcast-of-major-league-soccer-mls/id379077036
The Queens English Soccer Show: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-queens-english-soccer-show/id1501025448