n March 5, 2022, a Major League Soccer record 74,479 soccer fans packed Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium for the inaugural showing of Charlotte FC, the city’s new MLS club. When FC President Joe LaBue exuded that “the bar’s been raised,” his observation proved to be prophetic: In the team’s first season, Charlotte’s newly minted soccer fanatics created an atmosphere envied across MLS. Attendance for the new team’s home games averaged more than 35,000, second highest in the league.
“The reception of Charlotte FC here in the city and throughout the Carolinas has been nothing short of phenomenal,” LaBue told Site Selection via email in September. “No matter where you go in Charlotte, you’ll find the Club’s influence. We’ve built a social currency in this city that is evident and helping attract younger, more diverse fans to the area. The Club brings energy to the city and region.”
“The Crown,” as Charlotte FC is affectionately known, is one of four professional sports franchises that claim Uptown Charlotte as home. The NFL’s Panthers, the Hornets of the NBA and baseball’s Charlotte Knights — AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox — all play their home games within four square miles of each other, a sports-filled quarter that also includes NASCAR’s Hall of Fame. Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club has been an annual PGA Tour stop since 2003 and hosted the 2017 PGA Championship and the 2022 Presidents Cup.
“The Club brings energy to the city and region.”
— Joe LaBue, President, Charlotte FC
The sports world has taken note. Last March, Sports Business Journal ranked Charlotte No. 3 among its 50 Best Sports Business Cities, behind only Dallas and New York. Charlotte, the publication noted, “had the second-highest sentiment score of any city in our survey of sports business executives.”
Those executives, Sports Business Journal reported, “consistently noted how easy it is to make several in-person calls in a day or two. NFL, MLS, NBA, NASCAR and Class AAA baseball, along with top-tier brands and agencies, are all within just a few blocks.”
Last September, the Duke’s Mayo Classic drew ESPN’s College GameDay production to Charlotte for a football game between the Universities of North Carolina and South Carolina, the same two schools that inaugurated the wildly successful weekend in 2015. Held annually to open the college football season, the Classic has drawn close to a half-million fans while becoming a coveted invite for top teams across the football-frenzied South, also having included the Universities of Georgia and Tennessee and Clemson.
In a further boost to Charlotte’s collegiate sports cred, the venerable Atlantic Coast Conference — comprising 15 estimable institutions including UNC, Duke, North Carolina State University and Wake Forest — now calls Charlotte home. In August, the ACC completed its headquarters move from Greensboro to Charlotte’s Bank of America Tower. Describing Charlotte as “an amazing and vibrant community,” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said the city “not only meets, but exceeds, the needs of the ACC.”