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CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer returning to Charlotte in 2019

Gold Cup soccer returns to Bank of America Stadium in 2019, continuing a run of international soccer events in Charlotte. It is the third time Gold Cup matches have been held at the venue, but the first time since 2015. .
Gold Cup soccer returns to Bank of America Stadium in 2019, continuing a run of international soccer events in Charlotte. It is the third time Gold Cup matches have been held at the venue, but the first time since 2015. . AP Photo

The CONCACAF Gold Cup will be coming to Charlotte and Bank of America Stadium in 2019, a spokesperson for the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority told the Observer.

The CRVA held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to formally announce the news.

Charlotte is already hosting an International Champion's Cup match this July between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund.

Charlotte has previously hosted Gold Cup games in 2011 and 2015, featuring high-profile teams such as Mexico, Cuba, and Trinidad & Tobago. The United States men's national team, as well as Costa Rica, are also part of CONCACAF. Schedules and dates are expected to be announced in coming months once teams have qualified.

"We’re excited to welcome the CONCACAF Gold Cup back to Bank of America Stadium and Charlotte for the third time,” CRVA CEO Tom Murray told the Observer. “International soccer matches like the Gold Cup create additional visitor spending that is important to our overall visitor economy, and strategic events like this generate invaluable national and international media exposure opportunities for the city.”

Charlotte is able to host international soccer events like the Gold Cup and this summer's ICC game because the Carolina Panthers — who play in Bank of America Stadium — are required to provide five rent-free days a year to the city in exchange for using taxpayer money to renovate the stadium.

But Charlotte has not always used all its available days, for a handful of reasons (stadium renovations make scheduling difficult, and even with free rent, it can be a challenge to find profitable events). The college football kickoff game in September and the Belk Bowl in December are the only two other days the city has planned so far for 2018 — and the same is true for 2019.

Charlotte will be one of 13 U.S. host cities, and CONCACAF is announcing its other stadium venues throughout this week. Murray said CRVA and CONCACAF were in negotiations for about a year.

One reason, Murray and CONCACAF Chief of Football Officer Manolo Zubiria said, that Charlotte was re-selected as a Gold Cup host site was because of past successes, especially in 2015. The thrilling 4-4 contest between Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago — where Trindad leveled the score in extra time — was one of the tournament's best, and the 55,000 fans in attendance proved there was a market in Charlotte for international soccer.

"Sports is a big part of our visitor economy and our economy in general," Murray said. "Over 200 nights a year there's a professional sporting event in our community. We have lots of sports, but we also are growing as an international city — not just in sports, but in economic development."

Also expected? A strong economic impact. The Gold Cup attracts significant tourism dollars to Charlotte.

Which teams will face off in Charlotte? Mexico has been the headliner the past two Gold Cups in the city, but other potential headliners include the United States and Costa Rica.

Brendan Marks: 704-358-5889; @brendanrmarks


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