|PHOTO | ORLANDO FC
|Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is pursuing a Major League Soccer franchise for Charlotte.
David Tepper really wants a Major League Soccer franchise.
The Carolina Panthers owner said he’s in talks with MLS officials about bringing a team to Charlotte, which failed to land an expansion team last year.
“We are having ongoing discussions with Major League Soccer,” Tepper told print and online reporters last week. “We’re talking about when they’ll take extra teams and when the time comes, we’ll be [ready]. We’re very much studying, very much focused on it. I personally believe that’s something that belongs in Charlotte.”
Tepper has indicated on multiple occasions he’s interested in bringing MLS to the market since buying the Panthers for $2.2 billion in July. The MLS is adding franchises in Miami and Nashville in 2020 and Austin, Texas in 2021, with plans to add a 28th team in 2022.
The Panthers have in place infrastructure for MLS, with Bank of America Stadium capable of hosting a team and team President Tom Glick an experienced hand in soccer circles. In addition to running the Panthers’ day-to day operations since his hiring last year, Glick spent the previous six years developing the City Football Group, a multi-national soccer organization that includes six clubs including 2018 English Premier League champion Manchester City FC. The Group also owns MLS’s New York City FC.
Tepper never suited up for a soccer team at any level, but has been involved in the sport as a youth coach. However, he’s a big supporter of the sport.
“If you happen to come into my office, like Ron [Rivera] and Marty [Hurney] did, you would see all my first place trophies from coaching soccer,” Tepper told reporters. “I didn’t play soccer, but I coached my kids. If that makes me a soccer guy, yeah, I guess I am.”