Updated Feb 23, 2024 - Sports

Charlotte FC aims to become the city's "can't miss" event

Charlotte FC season opener. Fireworks go off with the skyline in the background.

Charlotte FC's home opener drew 74,479 fans in 2022 and 69,345 in 2023. Photo: Andy Weber/Axios

Charlotte FC's season opener needs to be a "can't miss" event, not just a soccer game, club president Joe LaBue tells Axios.

Why it matters: Charlotte FC has given the city something new to cheer for, becoming its first major league team to reach the playoffs since 2017. The bar is even higher for season three.

  • The team has succeeded in creating an electric atmosphere during its first two seasons. Now it's time to see if they can do it again.
  • "I really want Charlotte to prove itself once again as a soccer city," LaBue says.

What's happening: The Major League Soccer team kicks off its third season on Saturday, Feb. 24, vs. New York City FC at Bank of America Stadium at 7:30pm.

By the numbers: The club is approaching 60,000 tickets sold for the game (Charlotte's home opener drew 74,479 fans in 2022 and 69,345 in 2023).

Catch up quick: Charlotte recently named Dean Smith its third head coach. He tells Axios the club will "become a much harder team to beat."

  • Charlotte FC moved into its new headquarters at Atrium Health Performance Park.
  • You won't see Charlotte's two highest paid players from last season suiting up this season. Star striker Karol Swiderski is on loan in Italy and midfielder Kamil Jozwiak left on a permanent transfer. Other departures include center back Guzman Corujo, one of Charlotte's first signings, and forward Vinicius Mello.
  • Charlotte signed goalkeeper David Bingham, midfielders Djibril Diani and Júnior Urso, plus SuperDraft picks midfielder Tyger Smalls and defender Jahlane Forbes.
  • The club hired Tommy Wilson as technical director and named Miles Joseph associate head coach.
  • Zoran Krneta's title changed to general manager from sporting director. Bobby Belair moved from technical director to assistant GM.
  • Crown Legacy FC, Charlotte FC's minor league affiliate, kicks off its second season next month. Crown Legacy defender João Pedro, goalkeeper Chituru Odunze, midfielder Nikola Petković and forward Iuri Tavares have been signed by the first team.

Details: Tickets start at $15 for the opener. Charlotte is looking for a few more firsts that night, including their first goal and win during a season opener. Plus, here are two traditions to look for:

  • Coronation: Someone will be honored before each match in the supporters' section. They'll sit on a throne and a crown will be placed on their head. Former Carolina Panther Steve Smith was the first person tapped for this tradition in 2022.
  • National anthem: Michelle Brooks-Thompson's mic cut out during the inaugural home match and the entire stadium began singing the anthem. It's become a tradition for the entire stadium to join together in song.

The bottom line: Matches are "can't miss" because they're energetic, vibrant and diverse, LaBue says. Get someone in the door on night one and they'll probably be back.

  • "We showed up before," LaBue says of supporters, "Show up again."

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Feb. 15, 2024 and was updated on Feb. 23, 2024 to reflect the current number of tickets sold and additional player signings.


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