By Ryan Bailey

Construction has started on soccer-specific renovations at Bank of America Stadium, which will transform Charlotte FC’s home into an elite venue for Major League Soccer.

The approximately $50 million project includes significant enhancements to the Lowe’s East Gate, an upgraded main concourse and supporters’ bar just inside the gate, soccer-specific locker rooms, a central player tunnel, and a new premium club space and field-level seating.

“David Tepper has invested millions in ensuring the Panthers have best-in-class facilities, and he’s doing exactly the same for Charlotte FC,” said Mark Hart, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Tepper Sports & Entertainment.

“The stadium enhancements are designed to provide the ideal environment for soccer. We looked at Premier League venues and many other stadiums around the world to ensure this is a truly great experience for our players and fans.”

Global design firm Populous, whose highly lauded design work includes Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena and six FIFA World Cup venues, are serving as architects for the project. Rodgers Builders is the general contractor.

The Lowe’s East Gate, which is the most-used entrance at Bank of America Stadium, will be upgraded to improve traffic flow, and will feature a striking 210-foot-wide single LED screen.

“We felt compelled to create a very special, larger-than-life entrance gate and it will be one of the most iconic gate entries in Major League Soccer,” says Hart. “This central gate will act as a focal point for fans in their journey to the stadium, and for us, it helps to represent the unity of the crowd. Crucially, it will also serve as the main entrance for our most loyal fans in the supporters’ section.”

Bank of America Stadium Renovations

The two ‘Indomitable Spirit’ Panthers statues that currently flank the Lowe’s East Gate will remain, but move further apart to improve traffic flow in and out of the stadium.

The new entrance will lead directly into the improved main concourse, which will house two brand-new taprooms and state-of-the-art food and beverage stations.

Multiple points of sale and touchless kiosks will create a seamless experience for fans on the way to their seats.

The improved concourse will lead directly to the supporters’ section behind the east goal, where Charlotte FC’s most fervent fans will be cheering the team on.

“The fans are crucial to the success of our team, and it’s important for us to provide a vibrant and exciting game day experience,” says Hart. “A seamless entry to the stadium and the upgraded concourse will enhance our ability to provide an immersive match day experience, from the march to the final whistle.”

A brand-new MLS-mandated central player entrance tunnel will be located on the north touchline, in a space currently occupied by a workshop and storage facilities. Surrounding the tunnel will be The Vault, a new premium club area.

The tunnel will lead directly to the new ultramodern home locker room, ensuring Charlotte FC’s players will enjoy a short journey to the field.

“This is the best walkout in MLS,” says Hart. “We made a concerted effort to make this the best possible player walkout experience—for players and fans alike.”

The new player tunnel bisects The Vault, which will offer a unique tunnel club experience for around 250 fans and include field seating for around 125-150 fans.

“The Vault is our take on a concept that has had success in Major League Soccer, as well as stadiums throughout the world,” says Hart. “In addition to field-level seating along the north sideline, fans will be at the heart of the action when the biggest stars in MLS make their way out of the locker room and onto the pitch. It’s going to be an incredible experience for both the fans and players.”

The locker room is the traditional sanctuary of a soccer team—and Charlotte FC’s inaugural roster will enjoy world-class facilities before, during and after matches.

“This locker room will rival any soccer locker room in the world,” says Hart. “A soccer locker room is very different from an NFL locker room: there are very specific warm-up and training areas, and the space needs to be more intimate. Hence, it was very important for us to create separate locker rooms for soccer, giving a permanent presence for our players, coaches and staff.”

While the visiting locker rooms will be situated further from the tunnel (away teams will walk past The Gallery field suites behind the west goal to reach the tunnel), the home locker room will be located just a few feet from the entrance to the field.

“The new locker room facilities put Bank of America Stadium among the world’s elite,” says Charlotte FC Sporting Director Zoran Krneta. “This will bring extra motivation to our team, and in turn, offer a competitive advantage.”

The renovations began in March 2021 and will be completed in time for Charlotte FC’s first kick in 2022. Additional upgrades include the transition to full color-changeable LED stadium lights, and the construction of additional camera positions to enhance the television viewing experience.