A Soccer Fan’s Guide to Charlotte
With Charlotte FC set to launch its first season in MLS in 2022, there’s no better time to be a soccer fan in the Queen City. Here’s how you can get in on the action.
by Corey Inscoe
Charlotte Football Club takes the field for its inaugural season in 2022, bringing Major League Soccer to Bank of America Stadium. Whether you’ve been anxiously awaiting to watch the first home match since Panthers owner David Tepper and MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced it in December 2019 or if you’re still learning about the beautiful game that everyone’s talking about, there are plenty of ways to experience soccer in Charlotte.
See the World's Game Live
More than 65,000 fans have already minted their place at Charlotte FC’s first home match March 5 and there are still tickets available if you want to join them. Or go ahead and snag season tickets if you don’t want to miss any of the action through the summer. But going to the Bank of America Stadium on match day isn’t the only option if you want to catch live soccer in Charlotte. The Charlotte Independence, playing in USL League One, American soccer’s third tier, moved into Elizabeth’s American Legion Memorial Stadium last year. See up-and-coming young talent at this historic stadium with a beautiful view of Uptown. The Independence will also add a pre-professional women’s team this summer, playing in the new USL W League. Don’t forget about our college teams: The Charlotte 49ers regularly field strong Division I contenders and Queens University of Charlotte is doing its thing at the DII level. 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–like 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. Glory Days Apparel also has a soccer collection, if you’re looking for something a little different. Other local spots, like Girl Tribe and CLT Find, have creative gear designed by Charlotte artists ready to support the team and give unique options beyond the traditional sportswear.
Where to Watch the Match (and Grab a Drink)
The Elizabeth neighborhood has become a bit of a soccer mecca with two soccer bars a short walk from Memorial Stadium, the new home of the Independence. Charlotte’s go-to soccer bar, Courtyard Hooligans, opened a second location on Elizabeth Avenue and Big Ben, the British restaurant and pub that’s been serving soccer fans since 2010, moved in 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.
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. They’ll be planning watch parties across the area for CLTFC and other big matches.
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 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, you can lounge 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–like 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.