CHARLOTTE – As Panthers team president Tom Glick said at Bank of America Stadium Tuesday, soccer in the city of Charlotte is continuing to gain momentum.
Glick announced a deal with Relevent Sports Group that will bring the International Champions Cup to Charlotte for the next five years, marking the first long-term deal between RSG and a host city.
Bank of America Stadium will host its fifth ICC match when Arsenal takes on ACF Fiorentina on July 20, which is the first match of this new five-year agreement.
"Charlotte is a soccer city and today is validation of that," Glick said. "I think it's an incredible win for our city and our region to lock this in for the next five years. It's more evidence that soccer is not only here, it has been here, and we're just trying to unleash it more and more.
"The reason we've been able to do this five-year agreement with the ICC is because the last five years have been so successful. It's the right bet. Maybe you could even say it's a safe bet."
RSG Chief Operating Officer Aaron Ryan was on hand for the announcement, along with Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles and Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray.
"We couldn't be more thrilled to be partnering with the city of Charlotte for the next five years," Ryan said. "Cities all over the country vie for these matches, and we saw something special in Charlotte."
It was also announced that Charlotte had been chosen to the 2019 House of Soccer fan experience on July 19-20 at Romare Bearden Park and S. Mint Street.
"It will give us a chance to really celebrate the game in a really meaningful way in uptown Charlotte," Ryan said.
Panthers owner David Tepper is hoping to build off all this momentum as he and Glick prepare for an upcoming meeting with Major League Soccer in New York. Tepper has been clear from the beginning about his desire to bring an MLS team to Charlotte.
"We're confident in our candidacy. Major League Soccer has been on a roll. The growth of that league over the last few years has been remarkable. We'd love the opportunity to add to that," Glick said. "We think that the region deserves it and will support it – we're confident of that. We can only do our half of it. Hopefully we'll be able to convince Major League Soccer that we're the right place for them."