NFL owner David Tepper eyes MLS franchise in Charlotte: Report

MLS governors to discuss expansion plans on Thursday

Hedge fund magnate David Tepper is ready to write a massive check to Major League Soccer to bring its latest expansion franchise to Charlotte, according to a report Monday.

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Tepper, who owns the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, is set to invest $425 million of his own money if MLS officials approve his bid to launch the league’s 30th franchise, according to the Charlotte Business Journal. That sum would cover an MLS record expansion fee of $300 million to $325 million, as well as costs associated with the coaching staff and player salaries.

Additionally, Tepper is said to have requested that the Charlotte City Council earmark $100 million in taxpayer money raised by the city’s tourism tax. If approved, the money would be used to build a training facility and update the Panthers’ home field, Bank of America Stadium, to accommodate a pro soccer franchise.

MLS EXPANSION: SACRAMENTO OWNERSHIP GROUP TO BECOME 29TH FRANCHISE

An MLS spokesman said the league’s board of governors will discuss expansion plans at their scheduled meeting in New York City on Thursday. Charlotte is one of several potential expansion markets currently under consideration.

MLS would make any announcement regarding its 30th franchise in the latest expansion franchise’s home city, the spokesman added. A timeline has not been finalized.

Representatives for Tepper did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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MLS Commissioner Don Garber has indicated the league plans to have at least 30 franchises, with an announcement on the 30th team expected by the end of the year. The league had 24 active teams during its 2019 season.

The league awarded its 28th franchise to St. Louis in August and its 29th franchise to Sacramento in October. The ownership groups behind each of those teams paid $200 million expansion fees, a record at the time.

Tepper paid an NFL record $2.2 billion to buy the Panthers from former owner Jerry Richardson in 2018.

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