Published Wednesday, August 30, 2017 2:39 pm by Ashley Mahoney
Charlotte has bid for another soccer team.
The National Independent Soccer Association announced today eight markets who have submitted applications to participate in the league’s launch, which is anticipated for the spring of 2018 or 2019, depending on U.S. Soccer Federation approval.
Markets that applied include: Charlotte; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Connecticut; Miami; Milwaukee; Omaha, Nebraska; Phoenix and St. Louis. The league’s founders want to ultimately expand to 24 teams and include a path to franchise promotion and relegation with independent Division II Division IV leagues.
Michael Filipidis submitted the Queen City bid under the banner of Charlotte FC.
“We have applied to join the new NISA league,” Filipidis said via email. “The National Independent Soccer Association is the expansion Division III league aimed at filling the Division III void in the current US Soccer pyramid. NISA will provide an independent league with team owners controlling league governance, their local markets, and their intellectual property.”
Charlotte F.C. has its eyes on a familiar site in American Legion Memorial Stadium, which Charlotte City Council just ruled out as the proposed site for MLS4CLT CEO Marcus Smith’s bid to bring Major League Soccer to Charlotte. Further site discussions will take place at the City Council and Economic Development Committee meetings on Sept. 11 and Sept. 14).
“Our venue of choice is the American Legion Memorial Stadium,” Filipidis said. “We have had numerous positive talks and meetings with Memorial Stadium staff members in hosting us for many years too come. The possibility about playing in Uptown Charlotte is a very exciting opportunity to showcase one of Charlottes jewels. We would love to play in Memorial Stadium long term.
“Right now we are fully focused on playing long term at Memorial Stadium and hoping to meet with the county and city in the near future to work alongside together in renovating Memorial to accommodate professional soccer.”
A major component of the club rests in the Charlotte FC Supporters Trust, in which fans are partial owners of the product.
“By giving fans and the community a chance to own a part of Charlotte FC is a extreme differential to anything around,” Filipidis said. “Offering a trust is an important way to integrate fans into the governance and support of Charlotte FC. Our fans and supporters have the right to have their voices heard. Purchasing a stake in Charlotte FC comes with many benefits such as; season tickets, ownership voting rights, team apparel, special invitations to team events and much more. This will not be any individuals groups team, this will be Charlotte’s team.”
Beyond that, Filipidis sees the club’s responsibilities as a conduit for the game’s impact off the pitch.
“We are excited to partner and work with all amateur teams and academies to help further the culture of Charlotte soccer on and off the field,” said Filipidis, an entrepreneur who has been an assistant coach with a Greek fourth-division team the last three summers. “This would also include some of the fantastic local youth organizations and community support groups that are making incredible impacts in the community though the game of soccer. I believe working together is the best solution to raising the awareness and popularity of soccer in our city and the surrounding areas.”
NISA’s founders are Peter Wilt, a former Chicago Fire general manager, and Jack Cummins.