CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bank of America Stadium is preparing to host Charlotte FC’s first-ever home match this Saturday.
It is the first time Charlotte FC will play live in front of its fan base, and more than 70,000 people are expected to fill the stadium for the home opener.
The game is expected to bring big crowds to Uptown Charlotte businesses, an area that saw customers drop off amid the pandemic.
"A lot of these places took a hit during COVID,” Rick Bellino, general manager of Mellow Mushroom, said. “A lot of them shut down, so it's just really great to see the city come alive again."
Mellow Mushroom is gearing up for Charlotte FC supporters to stop by before, during, and after the match.
"We're just really bumping up our staff, our staff and our par levels for food, beverage, all of that, and yeah, we're just really excited,” Bellino said. “It's going to be really good. You know, a few years down with COVID, it's good to see this come through."
Charlotte FC is aiming for a league record of at least 74,000 fans to fill Bank of America Stadium in the inaugural match.
With plenty of pizzas and beer on tap, Mellow Mushroom is hoping to cash in on those crowds.
"We would love to be the to-go place before and after a game, and even the place to watch away games,” Bellino said. “We just really want to be associated with that soccer team, and hopefully they have a successful season."
"It's really exciting,” Jason Glunt, co-owner and co-founder of Salud Beer Shop and Salud Cerveceria, said. “It's been a long, long time obviously since we had a new professional team, and I can feel the energy in the city with a lot of our customers, a lot of our regulars. I can't wait till Saturday."
The business is the NoDa headquarters for the Mint City Collective, a Charlotte FC supporters group. It has been looking forward to the day the team finally kicks off in the Queen City.
"Every match, home and away, we'll have the TV and the sound on downstairs here in the beer shop, upstairs in Cerveceria,” Glunt said.
Some of the Mint City Collective plans to gather at Salud Beer Shop and Salud Cerveceria before heading to Uptown for the match on Saturday.
For fans who didn’t score a ticket to the game, Glunt said the NoDa spot and plenty of other businesses around the city plan to show the match.
"Various supporter groups have headquarters across the whole city,” Glunt said. “You might see one in South End, West End, Lake Norman, Rock Hill. You know they're everywhere, so the whole city will see a surge I feel."
Glunt said he believes soccer will be a staple sport in the Queen City, especially if the team can post some wins on the pitch.