While Tuesday’s announcement had the International Champions Cup logo on the screen and the media were given hats emblazoned with “House of Soccer”, the underlying theme of the day was in the title of the release issued to the press announcing a first-of-its-kind deal with Bank of America Stadium to bring the ICC to Charlotte for the next five years.
Charlotte Stakes Claim As Soccer City.
In addition to the unprecedented deal, which is the first long-term deal between Relevent Sports Group and a host city, RSG announced Tuesday that they would be bringing the 2019 House of Soccer, a premium, high-touch experience that offers unique access to clubs, players, live music and an open invitation for fans to show their soccer chops on the pitch, to uptown Charlotte – last year’s iteration featured celebrities like Draymond Green, 2 Chainz and Odell Beckham, Jr.
“What we’ve seen consistently when we’ve brought the matches to this market really caught our attention,” said Relevent CEO Aaron Ryan. “And the commitment that ownership and the organization here and the city really gave us a lot of confidence in pursuing this.”
The two-day event will span July 19th and 20th at Romare Bearden Park and will culminate in a supporters’ march into Bank of America Stadium to catch Arsenal and ACF Fiorentina square off live. Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray said the House of Soccer event in 2018 generated $20m in economic impact with many attendees coming from out of town.
The Mint City Collective, a fan supporters group launched by the Roaring Riot and other key soccer supporter group leaders to support a bid to bring an MLS team to Charlotte, will also be hosting a tailgate before the game.
While the announcement of an ambitious partnership like the one between Charlotte and RSG would cause quite the stir on it’s own, the questions quickly turned to the impact that this deal might have on a potential MLS bid for the city of Charlotte to bring a soccer team to Bank of America Stadium.
“It’s momentum,” said Panthers Team President Tom Glick, who, along with Panthers owner David Tepper, will head to New York this week to discuss the possibility of bringing a MLS team to Charlotte. “It’s momentum – and it’s more prove points.”
“I think it’s very clear to the commissioner and the owners that we have interest; we have a great case, a very strong case. We’re looking forward to telling them the good news about soccer and our preparedness to have a high-performing major league soccer club here and we’ll continue to be proactive and to bring that conversation to them.”
“We’re optimistic about the process and we’re confident in our candidacy.”
This past April, the MLS announced that they would be expanding to 30 teams, and David Tepper has not been shy about wanting to bring a team to Charlotte – Mayor Vi Lyles agrees that an MLS team would not only be successful, but make a positive impact on the city of Charlotte going forward.
“Charlotte is ready for every major sport that we can have,” said Lyles, who referenced that having entertainment uptown is what helps to make a city vibrant and events like House of Soccer and ICC help the city economically. “When you think about the diversity of what we have in this community, I think we can fill this stadium with soccer fans, football fans and any other kind of fan.”
“Maybe we’ll go back to wrestling – maybe we should call the Crockett family and put up a wrestling ring.”
Relevent Sports Group, which puts on the annual ICC event, has worked in the past with several cities in the past as they attempt to pursue an MLS bid.
“Today’s announcement is a big deal for our community and puts Charlotte at the epicenter of soccer’s rapid growth in the United States,” said Glick. “Charlotte’s reputation as a soccer city is driven by the passion of our fans, who continue to display their commitment to the game by attending matches and playing soccer at all ages, and the growing drumbeat of fans calling for a top-level domestic team.”
“Charlotte is a soccer city and today is a validation of that.”
Want to help bring an MLS team to Charlotte? Check out the Mint City Collective for more information.