Carolina Core FC to join MLS NEXT Pro in 2024
CAROLINA CORE, N.C. (Nov. 11, 2022) - Carolina Core FC, an independent club that will join MLS NEXT Pro in 2024 and play its home matches at Truist Point was unveiled today at Congdon Yards in High Point, N.C. Supporters can join the club by securing a season seat deposit and ordering limited-edition Carolina Core FC merchandise at www.carolinacorefc.com.
Established in January 2022, Carolina Core FC has diligently worked behind the scenes to build together its ownership group, hire an experienced executive staff - including former U.S. Men’s National Team and MLS legend Eddie Pope as the Chief Sporting Officer - and secure a long-term gameday home at Truist Point.
The club’s ownership group is led by principal investors Megan Oglesby, Matt Penley, and Mark Penley and includes local entrepreneurs Mike Kren, David Bennett, Leah and Chase Hazelwood, Melissa and Pablo Webster, Alex Moore and Ryan Burkett.
“By bringing the world’s game to the Carolina Core, we will create countless opportunities for those who want to access the sport and lift up the community both on and off the field,” said Megan Oglesby, Principal Investor of Carolina Core FC. “This is far more than a financial investment for our group, this will be a long-term investment into individuals and communities with untapped potential, and it will be a major driver of economic development in the region.”
The club will be known as Carolina Core FC. The name celebrates the area’s 12 diverse interlocking cities while showcasing the soccer community’s deep local influence. The goal of the club’s name is to unite the entire region through the global game. The permanent name will periodically be seen with a temporary crest, ahead of the official reveal of the club’s permanent crest and colors in early 2023.
MLS NEXT Pro
Carolina Core FC joins MLS NEXT Pro for the 2024 season. CCFC becomes the second independent, non-MLS affiliated club in the league, joining Rochester New York FC, an original member of MLS NEXT Pro in its recently completed inaugural season.
"MLS NEXT Pro has four pillars – player development, our local communities, innovation, and a commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. When we started engaging with Megan and Mayor Wagner, it became clear to us from our first meeting that we are aligned at all levels.” said Charles Altchek, President of MLS NEXT Pro. “Strong independent teams are a critical component of our growth strategy for MLS NEXT Pro, and we are confident that Carolina Core FC will overdeliver both on the field and in the community.”
Business Elements Kick Off (Digital Media, Season Seat Deposits, & Merchandise)
As part of the organization’s launch, the club has launched its website - www.carolinacorefc.com and social media accounts. Limited edition Carolina Core FC merchandise is available for purchase online. This initial batch of gear recognizes MLS NEXT Pro’s style and colors, ahead of the team’s announcement of its full colors and crest taking place in early 2023.
Fans interested in experiencing live professional soccer in High Point now have the opportunity to receive their season seat priority number by placing a deposit for as low as $25 per account. Those who reserve their priority numbers now will have the first chance to purchase the seat of their choice when season seats go on-sale in late 2023. Season seat deposits can be made at www.carolinacorefc.com.
Carolina Core FC has hired an executive staff with a diverse background and wealth of experience to properly launch the sporting and business sides of the club. These early hires will set the foundation for Carolina Core FC.
“Hiring such an experienced front office from day one, highlighted by Eddie Pope’s involvement on the sporting side, are statements to show how serious we are about building this club the right way from onset and beyond,’’ says Megan Oglesby.
- Eddie Pope, Chief Sporting Officer: Eddie Pope, born in High Point and a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, joins Carolina Core FC as the Chief Sporting Officer, overseeing all soccer operations, including technical staff management, player personnel, transactions, and scouting. After attending Southwest Guilford High School, he played college soccer for the North Carolina Tar Heels from 1992-1995 and was selected second overall by D.C. United in the first Major League Soccer College Draft. In just his second year, Pope was named MLS Defender of the Year. Widely considered one of the best defenders in American soccer history, Pope was a four-time MLS Best XI winner, part of the “Top 25 MLS Players of All-Time” and was selected to the MLS All-Time Best XI. Pope retired from MLS play as a 3-time MLS Cup Champion, Open Cup Champion, a CONCACAF Champion, and an InterAmerican Cup Champion. Pope also represented the U.S. Men’s National Team from 1996-2006, appearing in 82 games and playing in three FIFA World Cups (1998, 2002, and 2006). Following his on-field retirement, Eddie Pope served as the director of player relations for the MLS Players Union from 2008-2015 and helped negotiate two collective bargaining agreements. From 2015 through 2022, he served as the Director of the North American Soccer Division at Octagon Sports and Entertainment.
QUOTE FROM Eddie Pope:
"I couldn’t be more excited for the arrival of a MLS NEXT Pro club here in the Carolina Core. Our vision is to provide the pro player pathway for the area’s best young talent, build a lifelong connection between the club and our fans by uniting the community, and to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion both on and off the field." says Eddie Pope, Chief Sporting Officer of Carolina Core FC.
- Andy Smith, President: Andy Smith, a well experienced sports executive, joins Carolina Core FC as the club President. Having over 20 years of executive experience leading highly successful professional soccer teams on and off the field, Andy first began working at the club level in MLS clubs when he was a Corporate Account Executive for the Colorado Rapids, the Director of Sales at D.C. United, and the Vice President of Sales at FC Dallas. Outside of MLS, Smith was the President & General Manager of the Atlanta Silverbacks, and then later GM of Reno 1868 FC during their expansion launch and inaugural seasons. The team in Reno, while sharing a stadium with their baseball team partner, had the highest per capita attendance of any team in a U.S. soccer league and reached the playoffs in each year of its existence.
- Evan Mitz, Chief Operating Officer: Evan Mitz joins Carolina Core FC as the Chief Operating Officer, where he works in collaboration with the club’s executive staff on all areas of the organization. Mitz first began working at FC Dallas in 2006, where he won many league-wide annual MLS awards as an Account Executive. Later, he developed a comprehensive skill set from managing the operations of San Antonio’s professional soccer club expansion launch, serving as a Competition Manager at Copa America Centenario, and working for the Atlanta Silverbacks as the Vice President of Business Operations and Assistant General Manager. Specifically, while he was in San Antonio, the Club had immediate success in winning the second division regular season championship, shattering second-division attendance capacity records, and generating support for its non-profit enterprise partner Morgan’s Wonderland (The World’s First Ultra-Accessible Theme Park).
- Chris Baretta, Chief Revenue Officer: Chris Baretta joins Carolina Core FC as the Chief Revenue Officer, where he will be responsible for building out all revenue streams to include Sponsorship, Ticketing, Merchandise, Ancillary Game Day Revenues as well as oversight of all Marketing initiatives. Beretta previously served as the Chief Revenue Officer for the Greenville Triumph and Greenville Liberty, where he oversaw all club revenues, which grew by over 185% from 2019 through 2022. Following the 2021 season, he was awarded the Chief Revenue Officer of the year in the United Soccer Leagues. Before working in Greenville, Beretta worked in Account Executive roles at FC Dallas (MLS), and with the Seattle Sounders FC (MLS) and Seattle Seahawks (NFL). At those teams, he was recognized for league awards including: MLS Sales Executive of the Year, MLS Total Ticket Sales Revenue Leader (4 seasons).
- Brian Gavigan, Executive Vice President: Brian Gavigan joins Carolina Core FC as its Executive Vice President. Gavigan is a versatile business attorney and innovative leader. He concentrates his practice in corporate law and has expertise in design, negotiation, drafting, and operations. Gavigan has acted as a key figure in several new developmental projects in North Carolina. He was the High Point Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 “Vision Investor of the Year” award winner and was an important figure and leader in the $175 million downtown economic development and revitalization of High Point, including the creation of Truist Point. He served in the Air Force, where he was Captain of the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps. As a result of his exemplary practice of law, Gavigan was awarded three Air Force Commendation Medals for his service.
- Alen Izic, Business Operations and Data Analytics Coordinator: Alen Izic joins the team as its Business Operations and Data Analytics Coordinator. In this role, he will oversee the organization’s special events, business intelligence, and customer service operations. A local product of the Carolina Core, Izic played soccer at Piedmont Triad Football Club and Westchester Country Day School in High Point before attaining a degree in Economics and Sports Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Truist Point Renovations
On September 7th, 2022, the City of High Point announced plans to move forward with upgrades to Truist Point, taking the next step to bring more professional sports events to the revitalized downtown. Following the renovations, Truist Point will be able to accommodate up to 5,000 fans in the soccer layout of the multi-purpose stadium, providing both players and spectators with an authentic soccer gameday experience.
“The partnership with Carolina Core FC is another opportunity to position Truist Point stadium as a destination for all to come and enjoy. Investing in this next phase of stadium improvements is consistent with the original vision of a multi-use stadium. We are thrilled to welcome soccer fans in the near future.” says Mayor Jay Wagner.
ABOUT Carolina Core FC
Founded in 2022, Carolina Core FC is an independent professional men’s soccer club that will begin play in MLS NEXT Pro in 2024. The club’s local owners are dedicated to community development through its on-field and off-field activities. Carolina Core FC has diligently worked behind the scenes to build together its experienced executive staff, including former U.S. Men’s National Team and MLS legend Eddie Pope as the Chief Sporting Officer. #CCFC will play its home matches in High Point, N.C. at Truist Point, the $38 million stadium located in the revitalized downtown social district. Supporters can join the club by securing a season seat deposit and ordering limited-edition Carolina Core FC merchandise at www.carolinacorefc.com.
ABOUT MLS NEXT Pro
Launched in March 2022 by Major League Soccer, MLS NEXT Pro is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States and Canada that completes the pro player pathway from MLS NEXT, the youth academies associated with MLS, through to MLS, the top U.S. domestic league. Twenty-one Clubs competed during the inaugural season – 20 MLS-affiliated and one independent club, Rochester New York FC – with Columbus Crew 2 winning the first-ever MLS NEXT Pro Cup in October. MLS NEXT Pro continues to grow the game through innovation and diversity, bringing professional soccer to new communities across the country and creating global opportunities both on and off the field. Seven MLS-affiliated clubs will join MLS NEXT Pro in 2023: Atlanta United, Austin FC, Charlotte FC, LA Galaxy, Los Angeles Football Club, Nashville Soccer Club (Huntsville City FC) and New York Red Bulls. Additional MLS-affiliated and independent clubs will join in the years ahead, including Carolina Core FC in 2024. Beginning in 2023, MLS NEXT Pro matches will be streamed live on the Apple TV platform as part of the monumental partnership between Apple and Major League Soccer. For more information about MLS NEXT Pro, visit mlsnextpro.com.