Charlotte FC’s younger sibling is here — Crown Legacy FC.
Driving the news: The Major League Soccer team unveiled the minor league soccer side’s name and logo Monday.
- Crown Legacy FC will play in MLS NEXT Pro, a third-division league that kicked off in 2022 with 21 clubs. It will head into its second season with 28 teams.
- They worked with Wilmington-based brand agency Creature Theory to create the brand.
Of note: The launch was originally intended for Thursday, Jan. 19, but the club postponed the announcement due to the death of Charlotte FC player Anton Walkes.
The name has obvious ties to the first team, Crown Legacy FC president Darrius Barnes tells Axios, “holding true to the royal crown of the club and understanding where this team fits within the larger Charlotte FC family. This is really going to be where players legacies begin.”
- “This is where the foundation of their career and their journey is laid,” Barnes added.
Why it matters: If Charlotte FC matches are the party, then Crown Legacy FC is the pre-game, Barnes tells Axios.
Details: Crown Legacy FC (CLFC) will play at the Sportsplex at Matthews, a Mecklenburg County facility, which has served as a minor league soccer home since it opened in 2017. All of Charlotte FC’s teams will train at their new headquarters in east Charlotte.
Tickets range from $10-$15 per game and will cost:
- $140 for the season ($10 per game) for Charlotte FC season ticket holders.
- $168 ($12 per game) if you aren’t a Charlotte FC season ticket holder.
- $12 per game for groups of 10 or more.
- $15 per game for single-match tickets.
Games won’t be played on the same day as Charlotte FC, but rather the day before or after. The MLS NEXT Pro schedule is expected by the end of the month.
By the numbers: Minor league players make less than first team professionals. In 2022, for instance, base salaries for Charlotte FC players ranged from $65,500 to $2.2 million. MLS NEXT Pro players will make between $35,000-$50,000 on a one-year contract, which will also include housing and benefits for contracted players.
- There is not a salary cap, but they are limited to seven international roster spots, three of which are currently in use.
- They’ll have 12-15 contracted players for the team, which will serve as a feeder system for the MLS side connecting the organization’s academy, which launched in 2020, with the first team. Expect to also see a mixture of academy players, homegrown players and first team players on the roster.
Between the lines: MLS NEXT Pro allows players to see more minutes, whether they’re seeking to develop or come back from injury.
The big picture: The MLS club created a party-like atmosphere at Bank of America Stadium during its inaugural season, but minor league soccer has a history of struggling in Charlotte.
Yes, but: Charlotte’s minor league soccer teams never had the weight of a proverbial big brother like Charlotte FC behind it.
- “Having that big brother definitely helps,” Barnes said.
Of note: The club did consider playing at American Legion Memorial Stadium in Elizabeth, but Barnes said they felt it was too close to Bank of America Stadium and they needed to expand their footprint.
What’s next: Training begins Jan. 30 and opening weekend kicks off around the league March 24.
- The club will host a meet-and-greet with players, coaches and front office staff on Feb. 5 from 1:30-3:30pm at Seaboard Brewing (213 N Trade St.) in Matthews.