Businesses prepare for crowds with Charlotte FC’s first home game

More than 70,000 fans are expected to attend the opening game at Bank of America Stadium, and nearby businesses are hoping to capitalize on the crowd.

CHARLOTTE, NC — Bank of America Stadium is preparing to host Charlotte FC’s first-ever home game this Saturday.

It is the first time Charlotte FC has played live in front of its fan base and more than 70,000 people are expected to fill the stadium for the home opener.

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The game is expected to draw large crowds to Uptown Charlotte stores, an area where customers have been deserting during the pandemic.

“A lot of these places have taken a hit during COVID,” Rick Bellino, general manager of Mellow Mushroom, said. “A lot of them have closed, so it’s just great to see the city come alive again.”

Mellow Mushroom prepares for Charlotte FC fans to stop by before, during and after the game.

“We’re just really raising our staff, our staff and our levels of food, drink, all of that, and yeah, we’re just really excited,” Bellino said. “It’s going to be really good. You know, a few years with COVID, it’s good to see this coming through.

Charlotte FC is targeting a league record of at least 74,000 fans to fill Bank of America Stadium in the opening game.

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With plenty of pizza and beer on tap, Mellow Mushroom hopes to capitalize on those crowds.

“We would like to be the meeting point before and after a game and even the place to watch away games,” said Bellino. “We just want to be associated with this football team and hopefully they have a successful season.”

Outside of Uptown in NoDa, Salud Beer Shop and Salud Cerveceria were already seeing sales surge after hosting fans when Charlotte FC faced DC United.

“It’s really exciting,” said Jason Glunt, co-owner and co-founder of Salud Beer Shop and Salud Cerveceria. “It’s obviously been a long, long time since we had a new professional team and I can feel the energy in the city with a lot of our clients, a lot of our regulars. I can’t wait until Saturday.”

The company is the NoDa headquarters for the Mint City Collective, a Charlotte FC support group. It has been looking forward to the day the team finally competes in the Queen City.

“Every game, whether it’s home or away, we have the TV and the sound on down here in the beer shop and up in the cerveceria,” Glunt said.

Some members of the Mint City Collective plan to gather at the Salud Beer Shop and Salud Cerveceria before heading uptown for Saturday’s game.

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For fans who didn’t get a ticket to the game, Glunt said the NoDa spot and many other companies in town are planning to show the game.

“Different support groups have their headquarters all over the city,” Glunt said. “You might see one in the South End, West End, Lake Norman, Rock Hill. They know they’re everywhere, so the whole town is gonna see a ripple that I’m feeling.”

Glunt said he believes football will be a permanent sport in the Queen City, especially if the team can record some victories on the field.

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