Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said he expects Charlotte FC to set a league attendance record with close to 75,000 fans at their home opener.
What’s happening: Charlotte FC’s inaugural season kicks off this weekend against D.C. United, and while there is nothing like the first match, Charlotte impatiently awaits its team’s home opener. They host LA Galaxy on March 5 at 7:30pm.
- Bank of America Stadium holds 74,867 fans.
- We last reported the upper deck is sold out and the team surpassed 65,000 tickets sold. While I asked the commissioner for an updated figure, he said, “I’m hearing it could be 75,000, but we’ll wait and see when we’re there in just two weeks time.”
Why it matters: Yes, Charlotte is trying to beat Atlanta United’s regular-season record of 72,548 fans, but it’s only one of many ambitious targets set by the expansion franchise.
Tepper Sports and Entertainment CEO, and then-Charlotte FC president, Nick Kelly said on Jan. 31 the organization remains “bullish” on its goals for year one, beyond hosting the largest match, including:
- Averaging 30,000 fans per game, the upper deck will only be open for special occasions, like the opener.
- Hosting a playoff match.
What they’re saying: “I’ve got a lot of faith in David [Tepper] and his belief in the game,” Garber told me during his media availability.
Garber also spoke to the organizational changes within TSE this month.
- He said Tom Glick’s departure as TSE president wasn’t for him to comment on, but he did credit Glick with a “great career” in sports business.
Of note: Glick helped land the franchise and launch last season’s champion, New York City FC.
- Garber also praised Kelly as someone they’ve known for a really long time. “When he joined the club [in December 2020], we were very excited,” Garber said.
Between the lines: If Charlotte is “estamos jodidos,” which loosely translates to “screwed,” as head coach Miguel Angel Ramirez said Feb. 10, then they need to find a way to matter off the pitch, and they’ve made headway with sponsors.
- Garber credited the corporate sponsors the team’s brought on: Ally, who was the title sponsor before the team was announced in 2019, Centene, Atrium Health, Bojangles and Coco-Cola Consolidated.
He also outlined three objectives for Charlotte FC to hit in year one:
3. Buzz in the community