CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte appears to be in the driver’s seat for Major League Soccer’s 30th franchise.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber mentioned Charlotte as one of three cities in the running at Friday’s State of the League press conference.
“It is very likely that we’ll announce [the] team 30 in the next number of months,” Garber said.
Garber acknowledged Charlotte, Phoenix and Las Vegas as cities in the mix for expansion.
“It’s fair to say that Charlotte has done a lot of work to move their bid, really, to the front of the line,” Garber said.
Garber says the bid starts with David Tepper who he said is passionate about sports and the city of Charlotte. Garber says Tepper pointed out that they didn’t predict the success of MLS in Atlanta.
“There are a lot of things happening in Charlotte that are very similar to things happening in Atlanta,” Garber said.
He mentioned Charlotte’s diverse fan base and the wealth of corporate backing.
In July, Ally Financial threw its support behind Charlotte’s MLS bid, agreeing to be the lead sponsor of the city can land a franchise.
As the race to land an MLS franchise heats up, the fees for expansion are skyrocketing. Multiple reports indicate those fees could be in the neighborhood of $300 million. For context, in 2017 Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank paid just $70 million in fees for Atlanta United.
The city can contribute money to help David Tepper in the bid for an MLS franchise without costing taxpayers money. It would come in the form of a tourism tax revenue, which is paid for by visitors to Charlotte.