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Charlotte looking like a lock for future international soccer matches

An International Champions Cup game between Liverpool and A.C. Milan drew more than 69,000 fans to Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium last summer.
An International Champions Cup game between Liverpool and A.C. Milan drew more than 69,000 fans to Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium last summer. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte’s spot as a regular host for summertime international soccer is becoming increasingly secure.

“With what we’re looking for in a city and venue as a showcase for a tournament, Charlotte has everything,” said David Tyler, CEO of Relevent Sports, a marketing firm which is bringing an International Champions Cup match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain to Bank of America Stadium on July 25. “For our teams, Charlotte is a great place to showcase their players and brands to their fans.

“This won’t be the last time we’re here, definitely. It was a bit of a no-brainer that this would be one of the cities we would come back to, not only for this year but going forward.”

Tyler speaks from experience. In 2014, an ICC match between Liverpool and A.C. Milan in Charlotte drew 69,364 fans to the 73,298-seat stadium.

That was enough for Tyler to want to bring another game to Charlotte this summer. Charlotte is one of 14 cities in North America and Europe to host games in the 10-team tournament.

“There’s a great demand for these games,” Tyler said. “One of the great things about the U.S. is all the great facilities.”

The Chelsea-PSG game will be the third soccer game played in 10 days at the stadium. A Gold Cup doubleheader (Cuba vs. Guatemala and Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago) is scheduled for July 15. The Gold Cup is the championship tournament of FIFA’s CONCACAF region, which includes countries from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

“That won’t be a problem at all,” Carolina Panthers president Danny Morrison said. “It will actually work well to have games bookended in a 10-day period.”

This summer’s matches are built on the success of last summer’s Liverpool-A.C. Milan game, as well as another well-attended Gold Cup doubleheader in 2013 and an exhibition in 2010 between Mexico and Iceland that also drew 60,000-plus fans. The U.S. women’s national team has also played two games at Bank of America Stadium.

A notable absence in Charlotte’s international soccer dossier is a game featuring the U.S. men’s national team.

“We’d be open to playing in Charlotte, but there have been no discussions that I know of about us coming there,” U.S. Soccer spokesman Neil Buethe said. “But we’ve noticed the previous games played there and noted the success they’ve had.”

Charlotte also is in the running for an exhibition involving Spanish giant Barcelona in 2016.

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