Turnkey Search Seeks Leader for MLS Charlotte

March 9, 2020 – Turnkey Search, a subsidiary of Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, has been enlisted to help fill a key leadership role for MLS Charlotte, a Major League Soccer expansion team in North Carolina. The title of the role will be either president or chief business officer, depending on the experience of the chosen candidate.

Late last year, hedge fund billionaire David Tepper paid a record $325 million for the franchise. Tepper Sports & Entertainment (TSE) also owns the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League and Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.

“The role will lead and be responsible for the overall day-to-day business operations, strategy, tactics and P&L for MLS Charlotte, as well as represent and be a very prominent ‘cheerleader’ and advocate for the MLS club within the community,” said Turnkey Search.

TSE employs a shared services/matrixed organizational structure, said the search firm. This role will lead and serve as the “orchestra conductor” and “master integrator” of (a) a dedicated MLS team of direct reports and also (b) leading and leveraging existing functional departments as shared services which support the MLS Club, the Panthers and future TSE properties.

Primary Liaison 

The direct report team will include marketing, digital media and broadcasting, communications, community relations and finance. The shared services team will consist of partnership sales and service (multi-property selling; along with Panthers), premium sales and service (multi-property selling; along with Panthers), ticket sales and service (dedicated team to soccer fans; separate from Panthers team), stadium and facility operations, legal and HR.

This role will also be the primary liaison between business operations and soccer operations (soccer operations shall report to the TSE President), said Turnkey Search. The role will lead the creation and implementation of an annual business plan and the development and tracking of key performance indicators, working in conjunction with all key stakeholders across the TSE organization.

In partnership with TSE’s president, the position will serve as MLS Charlotte’s key point of contact for MLS league office on business matters, participate in league calls and meetings as appropriate, and lead responses to league requests as needed, said the search firm. The role, again in partnership with the TSE president, will also serve as MLS Charlotte’s key point of contact for North Carolina, South Carolina and all local community constituencies, public sector, private sector and media for the purpose of promoting and advocating MLS soccer across the region.  This part of the role involves extensive public speaking, on camera interviews and other external facing responsibilities.

Job Qualifications

Candidates must have a minimum of 10 years of executive sports industry leadership and strategic planning experience, said Turnkey Search. They should also have a successful track record and experience thriving in a matrixed, shared services, highly collaborative business model; collaboration, integration and inclusion are crucial traits for this role.

Experience across various business disciplines including strategy, brand leadership, digital and social media, CRM, sales and operations is also required. Candidates should have experience in developing and executing business plans and delivering results in a high-growth, start-up environment. They must also possess knowledge of and passion for the sport of soccer and a deep understanding of the various segments of soccer fans globally.

Related: Hunt Scanlon’s Top 10 Sports Search Assignments of 2019

MLS Charlotte became MLS’ 30th franchise in December. The team will begin play in March 2021 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, also home of the Carolina Panthers, college football games, international soccer matches and concerts. Mr. Tepper, who founded the global hedge fund Appaloosa Management, became the owner of the Carolina Panthers in 2018, after previously owning a five percent stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers.

20-Plus Years of Experience

Founded in 1996, Turnkey Search is a specialized talent recruitment/executive search firm focused on recruiting C-level, senior-level and mid-management-level talent for sports, entertainment and media enterprises. Over the past 20-plus years, Turnkey Search has filled more than 1,000 positions across these three sectors. The search firm helps teams, leagues, stadiums, arenas, theaters, college athletic departments, events, sponsors, agencies, media companies, private equity firms and other clients identify, recruit and hire top management talent.


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 Turnkey’s clients include the University of Alabama, the Atlanta Hawks, CitiGroup, the University of Denver, Louisiana State University, the University of Michigan, the Milwaukee Brewers, the University of Mississippi, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the University of Nebraska, the Oakland Raiders, Richard Childress Racing, RocNation, Rutgers University, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Temple University, Ticketmaster, Townsquare Media, the United Center, VStar Entertainment Group and the Washington Nationals.

Len Perna, founder, president and CEO, manages all aspects of Turnkey Search. A top executive in the sports industry since 1985, he began his sports career as a business attorney for Cap Cities ABC/ESPN and also served as a top executive for the Detroit Red Wings/Tigers and the Dallas Stars/Texas Rangers.

Related: Executive Search Gets ‘On the Ball’ In Sports Recruitment

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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