Hey there, Kurt Knaak here, 5 Points agent and the group’s resident sports reporter. This city we live in sure keeps us sports fans talking.
First, one can’t be too excited about the upcoming Carolina Panthers football season this year, or can they? Nope, all the excitement is well-deserved and has been pent up for years. Ever since Cam Newton took us to the Super Bowl after the 2015 season, we have been longing for another shot. Fans have patiently waited through multiple head coaches (Dom Capers, George Seifert, John Fox, Ron Rivera, Perry Fewell, Matt Rhule, Steve Wilks, and Frank Reich), multiple offensive and defensive schemes, and, of course, multiple starting quarterbacks.
But now, this season is different. With the first pick of the 2023 draft, the Panthers selected Bryce Young, the quarterback from Alabama. This young man, no pun intended, is a game changer not just this season but for the organization as a whole. He brings a calm demeanor, wise perspectives beyond his years, and the football smarts of a tenured veteran. I can’t wait to see him lead this team.
My hat is also off to David Tepper for stepping up and endorsing the trade by GM Scott Fitterer to land Bryce. That took big BALLS! Also, Mr. Tepper made the best coaching hire at the time by selecting Frank Reich. The idea of Bryce Young being tutored by one of the best teaching, ex-NFL, quarterback minds in the game will be fun to watch. But, all of these talents need time to grow, so let’s be patient and enjoy the process of developing into a great team. The two essential parts are in place, Bryce and Frank.
Did you hear there’s a new owner in town? Yes, Michael Jordan sold his majority interest in the Charlotte Hornets to a group led by Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin. They reportedly paid $3 billion for the rights to control the Hornets, which is surely the beginning. Michael will continue to hold a minority stake in the team and support them in any way possible. So, let’s do the math. He paid $275 million for his stake in the team 13 years ago and sold it for $3 billion. That represents a gain of $2.725 billion in equity or a 990% return on your investment. Not bad!
However, the results over the last 13 years were not very good. The team had 423 wins and 600 losses and has not won a playoff series during that time. In fact, the Hornets have missed the playoffs for the last seven years. Abysmal. The new owners are committed to taking the Hornets to “the next level”. And that will include investing in the facilities, the community, and the team to rebuild fan confidence. It will also take money. Fortunately, they have it.
Schnall and Plotkin have both thrived in the world of private equity and wealth management, where building and rebuilding companies and portfolios with an eye on positive returns is their specialty. They have the money, the vision, and the competitive desire to create greatness with the Hornets. My fingers are crossed and I am hopeful that Michael made the right decision for the Hornets and Charlotte.
In case you might not know, the CFC continues to generate enthusiasm and excitement. The Charlotte Football Club is in their second year and are still struggling to match the right talent on the field to the opportunities at hand. Not uncommon for a second-year franchise. And they have done better than most expectations in year one and thus far in year two. For example, in their inaugural year they had the second-best average attendance of all 28 teams. They packed in an average of 35,260 fans per game, second only to Atlanta United FC. Not bad, considering they were predicted to finish in last place, which they did not. They finished in ninth place in the Eastern Division out of 14 teams.
The current season has higher expectations, of course. So far, they have a record of 6 wins, nine losses, and eight draws and are sitting in 12th place. And unfortunately, they are allowing more goals against than any other team in MLS. On a brighter note, they have collected a better roster with the potential to score more goals. Karol Swiderski and Enzo Copetti are the leading goal scorers but recently, a young star has emerged in Patrick Agyemang. The midfielders are solid and led by two veterans in Brandt Bronico and Ashley Westwood. The number one pick in the 2022 draft, Ben Bender, is a growing threat in the midfield as well.
Defensively is where we need help. With the retirement last year of Christian Fuchs, we are in need of steady, veteran play from the defense. Our struggles in our back 1/3 of the field are well documented this year and must be addressed in the offseason if CFC is to grow beyond just a “middle of the pack” team. This was never more evident in the quarterfinal game last night in League Cup play against Inter Miami. Just the presence of Lionel Messi on the opposing team is enough to cry “not fair”. But when we self-destruct on defense with a terrible penalty that led to a penalty goal and an own goal, it is hard to compete.
But, take heart in the fact that we did make it to the quarterfinals! That was not predicted and CFC will be more confident going forward into the remainder of the season as a result.
If you are a sports fan and want to live near the action… call us… we got you.