Over a year ago, Charlotte's name was floated as part of potential MLS expansion.
"We are intrigued by Charlotte," Garber said during a social media Q&A during MLS All-Star Weekend in August of 2018.
Going back to David Tepper's introductory press conference, it was obvious he had his eyes on an MLS franchise at Bank of America Stadium.
“We open it up for other things. I could make an investment in MLS and I bring that here, I bring that much more dollars into the community," Tepper said.
It wouldn't be long before MLS formally announced expansion and Charlotte was widely speculated to be in the thick of it.
In April, MLS announced it would be expanding to 30 teams. With three expansion franchises already announced (Miami, Nashville and Austin), the push was on to get one of the final three slots.
The first two went to St. Louis and Sacramento, leaving just one opening. After taking ownership of the Panthers in 2018, David Tepper made it clear he wanted to bring MLS to Charlotte, going as far as sending out surveys to Panthers season ticket holders to gauge interest about a soccer team.
"I personally believe it's something that belongs in Charlotte," Tepper said.
In June, a report from Sports Illustrated stated that Charlotte was "very much in play" for expansion, mostly due to Tepper's persistence with MLS officials, who toured Bank of America Stadium in February. In July, Charlotte's bid got another boost when Ally Financial threw its support behind it, pledging to be the lead sponsor if the city landed a franchise.
That's where the money from City Council comes in, because without a soccer-specific stadium, MLS wouldn't consider Tepper's bid. Now that the funding is all but a guarantee, Charlotte is ready for its next pro sports team.
During a charity event in August, Tepper told reporters his team was "optimistic" they could get the team.
“We have been in continuous conversations,” Tepper said. “We’re optimistic, and we’ll see. I haven’t made any secret from day one that I think this is a great area for soccer.”