A Soccer Fan’s Guide to Charlotte
After Charlotte FC’s thrilling first season, the addition of the club’s new minor league counterpart, Crown Legacy FC, confirms there's no better time to be a soccer fan in Charlotte. Here’s how you can get in on the action.
by Corey Inscoe
Following a successful inaugural season in 2022, Charlotte Football Club (FC) is back at Bank of America Stadium for another year of Major League Soccer (MLS). Charlotte FC’s former player and captain, Christian Fuchs, will transition to a new role as an assistant coach under second-year head coach Christian Lattanzio. Joining Charlotte FC in 2023 is a brand-new affiliate minor league team, Crown Legacy FC.
See the World's Game Live
Last year, during the team's home opener against L.A. Galaxy, Charlotte FC set an MLS single-match attendance record with 74,479 fans at Bank of America Stadium. Charlotte FC kicks off the 2023 season on Feb. 25 with a home match against New England Revolution. Or snag season tickets if you don’t want to miss any of the action through the summer.
Going to Bank of America Stadium on match day isn’t the only option if you want to catch live soccer in Charlotte. The Queen City's newest soccer club, Crown Legacy FC (CLFC), will play in the MLS Next Pro, a third-division league that launched in 2022. CLFC matches will kick off at the Sportsplex at Matthews the day before or after a Charlotte FC match. Charlotte FC season ticket holders can even receive discounted single-match tickets to CLFC games.
The Charlotte Independence, playing in USL League One, American soccer’s third tier, will commence another season at American Legion Memorial Stadium in Elizabeth. See up-and-coming young talent at this historic stadium with a beautiful view of Uptown. The Independence's pre-professional women's team, playing in the USL W League, will also return for another season.
Don’t forget about Charlotte’s college teams. The Charlotte 49ers, as well as Queens University of Charlotte, regularly field strong Division I contenders. Charlotte also regularly hosts international matches, from the International Champions Cup featuring some of the world’s biggest clubs to the Gold Cup with national teams from across North America.
Grab Your Gear
Need to gear up for that first Charlotte FC match? Grab your official merch, including that gorgeous black and mint jersey, at the team store located at Bank of America Stadium on Mint Street, or on the team’s website. 704 Shop in South End, which was founded by three UNC Charlotte alumni, specializes in Charlotte-themed apparel and accessories. Find sweatshirts, bottoms, hats, bags and more to wear while you root on the home team. 704 Shop even has a collection of products adorned with the official City of Charlotte crown. Other local spots, like Girl Tribe and Glory Days Apparel, have creative gear designed by Charlotte that give unique options beyond the traditional sportswear.
Where to Watch the Match (and Grab a Drink)
If you’re looking to meet up with fellow Charlotte FC fans, check out one of the chapter bars for Mint City Collective, one of the team’s supporters' groups. These groups plan watch parties across the area for Charlotte FC and other big matches.
The Elizabeth neighborhood has become a bit of a soccer mecca with two soccer bars a short walk from Memorial Stadium, home of the Independence. Charlotte’s go-to soccer bar, Courtyard Hooligans, opened Elizabeth Parlour Room at Hooligans FC, a cocktail bar with nostalgic soccer decor on Elizabeth Avenue. Big Ben, the British restaurant and pub that’s been serving soccer fans since 2010, is next door.
The original Courtyard Hooligans is still tucked into Brevard Court in Uptown and remains a top spot for watching international soccer and U.S. Men’s National Team games. On that same court you’ll find Valhalla Pub & Eatery (a Liverpool bar) and Queen City Bites & Crafts (Everton). Ri Ra Irish Pub on Tryon Street is the Arsenal bar, and Dilworth Neighborhood Grille is the home of the Queen City Outlaws, our local U.S. Soccer supporters’ group.
Mint City Collective’s largest supporters’ group is the South End chapter, which meets at Lenny Boy Brewing Co. for watch parties. While you’re there, be sure to order the Minty City Collective American-style pilsner for your tailgate or while you watch the match. Also in South End, HopFly Brewing Co. is a great locale for tailgating before a home match or celebrating after. Just minutes from Bank of America Stadium, this brewery boasts a large outdoor patio with picnic tables, as well as a rooftop bar on the second floor with views of Uptown.
Charlotte FC-Themed Beers
It’s not just area bars getting in on the game-day action. Several breweries in the Queen City created Charlotte FC-themed beers to sip while you watch the match. NoDa Brewing Company’s Pitchside Pils was created in collaboration with Charlotte FC’s supporters’ groups. Sip this crisp German-style pilsner at Charlotte FC home games at Bank of America Stadium. In honor of the inaugural season last year, Salud Cerveceria released a pilsner called “Que Golazo,” which means “what a goal” in Spanish. Salud’s beer shop is also the official bar for the Mint City Collective’s NoDa chapter.
Where to Stay
The majority of the city’s soccer action–from Charlotte FC to the Charlotte Independence and international matches–happens right in or around Uptown, so that’s your best bet. There are several hotels just a short walk from Bank of America Stadium, including the Hilton Charlotte Center City, The Westin, JW Marriott Charlotte and Residence Inn by Marriott Charlotte Uptown. For a more boutique experience in Uptown, give The Ivey’s Hotel a try. With just 47 guest rooms and access to Sophia’s Lounge cocktail bar, you can relax in the lap of luxury when you’re not cheering on the home team. (Other swanky Uptown options: The Dunhill, Kimpton Tryon Park and Grand Bohemian.)
Where to Play
Feel the need to get into the game? Charlotte’s many parks, including Freedom Park in Dilworth, have plenty of space to kick the ball around with friends or even get into a pick-up game. Or you could check out one of Charlotte FC’s new mini-pitches in town, part of the club’s Pitches for Progress initiative.
New to town and want to join a league? SportsLink has a variety of adult soccer leagues for all skill levels. And Street Soccer 658, a year-round, life-skills-based soccer program, hosts a series of summer tournaments and leagues.
Article originally written by Corey Inscoe. Updates by Arielle Patterson.