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Charlotte on brink of being awarded MLS team

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper (Credit: Getty Images)

The city of Charlotte, North Carolina, is on the brink of being awarded Major League Soccer’s 30th team, with an announcement possibly being made on December 17 according to multiple reports.

Having paid a National Football League record $2.275bn for the Carolina Panthers in 2018, hedge fund billionaire David Tepper is expected to pay a league-record $325m for an MLS team.

The most recent MLS expansion fees, for St. Louis and Sacramento, were $200m.

Tepper and Panthers president Tom Glick were in New York on December 5 for MLS’s Board of Governors meeting. No formal announcement was made but MLS commissioner Don Garber said the league was in “very, very advanced discussions” with Charlotte. He added some stadium issues needed to be resolved first.

Glick told reporters: “We feel optimistic about our chances but there is still work to be done. Today has gone well and we’re working tirelessly to make this happen.”

The team could start play in 2021, but some work still needs to be done to the Panthers’ 75,523-capacity Bank of America Stadium to make this become a reality. As such, Tepper is seeking $100m of tourism tax funds from the local council to renovate the facility for soccer.

MLS is also in discussions with Las Vegas and Phoenix about the 30th expansion team.

Inter Miami and Nashville SC will join MLS next year, while Austin FC will join in 2021. This year it was announced that St Louis and Sacramento will field teams in 2022. Garber also recently said that MLS might expand to 32 teams in the future.

Elsewhere, Garber added that MLS will have a rising number of network TV slots on ABC, Fox and Univision in 2020. He also said that he was confident of a deal with the players’ union about agreeing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.