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Charlotte Independence looks to showcase stadium upgrades vs. Swansea City

Jim McPhilliamy (left), president of the Charlotte Independence, and team general manager Tom Engstrom (right), answer questions during a press conference Tuesday, June 7, 2016, at the Charlotte Chamber announcing that the United Soccer League team would host English Premier League club Swansea City in an exhibition on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, at Ramblewood Soccer Complex Stadium.
Jim McPhilliamy (left), president of the Charlotte Independence, and team general manager Tom Engstrom (right), answer questions during a press conference Tuesday, June 7, 2016, at the Charlotte Chamber announcing that the United Soccer League team would host English Premier League club Swansea City in an exhibition on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, at Ramblewood Soccer Complex Stadium. Bill Kiser

Over the past two seasons, Charlotte Independence officials have worked to improve the facilities at Ramblewood Soccer Complex.

Now the Independence is ready to show off what’s been done, and to a team other than their usual United Soccer League opponents.

The Independence will host their first international-level exhibition at Ramblewood on July 13, taking on Swansea City of England’s Premier League.

“We’ve made a lot of progress since we started the team in the fall of 2014,” Independence president and managing partner Jim McPhilliamy said Tuesday. “We’ve put together a good team … and our stadium is finally getting to a point where we can do some exciting things.

“Our organization’s commitment is to bring the highest level of soccer to Charlotte, whether that be (Major League Soccer) in the future or starting to bring in international friendlies with really good teams now. Hopefully it’ll be something everybody can get behind.”

The exhibition against the Independence will be the first of two against USL teams as part of the Welsh club’s11-day training camp, which will be based in Washington.

The Swans, who finished 12th in the Premier League last season with 47 points (12-15-11), are also scheduled to play the Richmond Kickers on July 16.

“They hired a new manager (Francesco Guidolin) in January, so this is his first preseason,” Independence general manager Tom Engstrom said. “He has a lot he wants to do, and they’re going to do the best they can to prepare for the season.

“Games like this are really fun for our guys. They aspire to play at the highest level they possibly can, so this is a good opportunity to challenge themselves and see what they can do.”

Tickets for the Independence-Swansea City exhibition will go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. Friday, with prices starting at $20.

Because of the limited parking space available at Ramblewood, prepaid parking passes will go on sale at a later date. Off-site parking will also be available, with fans shuttled to the stadium.

McPhilliamy said that even with Ramblewood’s seating capacity (4,750) and lack of parking, there was no thought given to moving the exhibition to a bigger facility.

“We finally got that stadium where we want it, and we want to showcase it,” McPhilliamy said. “It’s difficult to get in and out of, and we know that, but it’s great once you get in there.”

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