What is the largest stadium in MLS?

Discover how Bank of America Stadium, home of Charlotte FC, became the largest stadium in MLS
New York City FC v Charlotte FC
New York City FC v Charlotte FC / David Jensen/GettyImages

Who would've thought that the heart of soccer in the United States would beat so strongly in Charlotte, North Carolina? Well, the Bank of America Stadium, inaugurated in 1996 and initially named Ericsson Stadium, is today the largest stadium in Major League Soccer (MLS) with its impressive 74,867 seats. The journey of this colossus is as fascinating as the rise of soccer in the country itself.

It all began when a giant Swedish telecommunications company secured naming rights, marking the birth of an arena destined for greatness. But in 2004, it was the turn of Bank of America, with a hefty $140 million contract, to put its name on the stadium's facade for a period of 20 to 25 years. This change wasn't just nominal; it symbolized a new era for the venue, which began to be described by former Panthers president Danny Morrison as a "classic American stadium" due to its bowl design and other striking features.

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Though designed to meet the demands of a soccer field, Bank of America Stadium spent many years without fully exploring this potential. For two decades, it was like a sleeping giant, waiting for the right moment to awaken. That moment came with Charlotte FC's entry into MLS in 2022. When Charlotte FC made its home debut on March 5, 2022, over 74,000 fans packed the stands, breaking the MLS attendance record for a single match.

Charlotte FC's impact was immediate and transformative. The stadium, which previously only filled up on special occasions, now buzzes with energy and passion on game days. Of course, not all Charlotte FC games use the stadium's full capacity, typically limiting to the lower bowl and club level, with a capacity of 38,000.

Bank of America Stadium wasn't a stranger to soccer before Charlotte FC. It had hosted the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship in 1999 and 2000. However, starting in 2010, soccer began to establish a constant presence, mainly with international matches. The International Champions Cup, which brings elite clubs from leagues like the Premier League and Bundesliga, found a home in the stadium, further expanding its fame and reach.

There's a delicious irony in seeing how a stadium initially intended for the NFL has become a stronghold for MLS. It's as if Bank of America Stadium found its true calling after years of waiting. The city of Charlotte, known for its hospitality and sports fervor, embraced soccer with the same passion it supports its Panthers in the NFL.

Bank of America Stadium is undoubtedly a giant in MLS, not just in terms of size, but in impact and significance. It represents the perfect fusion of past and future.