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Railhawks rebrand as North Carolina FC while announcing MLS, NWSL aspirations

Photo via North Carolina FC.
Photo via North Carolina FC.

The Carolina Railhawks have officially rebranded, but they have bigger goals in mind for the future.

The Railhawks announced a complete rebrand on Tuesday and will now be referred to as North Carolina Football Club, or NCFC for short. They also unveiled a new crest and primary team colors.

However, owner Steve Malik also revealed his intentions to join MLS and NWSL in the future.

“This is a brand restatement,” said Malik. “We aspire to be at the top level of both men’s and women’s professional soccer, so we are pursuing MLS and NWSL bids as well as a new stadium. We made a conscious decision to brand ourselves as North Carolina’s professional club. A united soccer community will be one of the keys to reaching these goals.”

Malik will launch what he calls an “aggressive campaign” in an attempt to land an MLS expansion team within the next 12 to 18 months. He also wants an NWSL team sometime in the next three to six months.

In addition to those bids, Malik will try to find the proper location for a new stadium that seats more than 20,000 fans.

“We feel we are well positioned for this,” Malik said. “The market is ready for an MLS team based on our geographical location, population growth, dynamic economic environment and significant soccer participation. MLS requires a minimum of 20,000 seats with amenities in order to maximize revenue, and a new stadium is vital to our plans as it would increase the economic impact in the area and allow us to better showcase the sport.”

WakeMed Soccer Park, the team’s current venue, has a capacity of 10,000, so a new stadium is crucial to Malik’s MLS bid.

NCFC is hoping to have a finalized location and renderings in place to be unveiled in 2017.


  1. mmm seems a bit over-reaching to me, like if the galaxy were to rebrand as “california fc.” (how many season ticket deposits are they going to get from charlotte, see what I mean?) I’d suggest something a little more focused on one chunk of the regional population and not the whole state, but, hey, what do I know?

  2. Sucks. Railhawks was a good brand in my opinion. Couldn’t they at least keep some history and have the hawk in their crest? Lame.

  3. At what point is adding teams to MLS not an option anymore? Or will every moderate US city that has a Chipotle and a shopping mall eventually end up in MLS as long as they have the aspiration to?

    • The amount of teams that really are viable, isn’t much.

      That is true in Pro/Rel leagues too. Might be a little harder to tell as those countries are so much smaller that some of the non-viable, never ever going to win, are still making first division, but even in that scenario…..not that many cities even make first division.

  4. I actually kinda miss the Railhawks already. Boo.

    Still, they are right. The Triangle area is assuredly big enough and has more than enough of the soccer-mad demographics they talk about to field a monster of a fan base and team. Obviously Charlotte is another massive future demographic but they’re well behind in terms of establishing a team so it could be NCFC ends up scooping them. Still think Charlotte will wind up with a pretty substantial pro club eventually, though. Charlotte’s not far off Atlanta in terms of being one endless burb with about a gazillion youth soccer clubs in it.

    This still feels to me like the sort of organic, grassroots club growth that will result in pro/rel eventually being necessary because these kind of clubs are rising up all over the USA, and if MLS won’t accommodate them they’ll almost have to form a parallel league. Considering the NASL is faltering badly right now the last thing MLS needs to do is get exclusionary and force it to re-form.

    MLS needs to go ahead and form MLS 2. Pro/rel doesn’t necessarily need to be a part of it now but have the structure in place, because the growth of soccer alone dictates it’s going to have to happen eventually.

    • Why do you want them or other teams in second division? Put them in first division if it is viable.

      • Just not sure where they’ll play them. If MLS is willing to keep expanding, sure, but right now we’ve got a bunch of markets – just off the top of my head, San Antonio, St. Louis, Sacremento, and undoubtedly several others I’m forgetting, and now NCFC, that all aspire to MLS…but NASL is on the verge of dissolving and they’re definitely a cut above, say, LA Galaxy II, what will we DO with them? Do we just stuff them down in USL alongside the B teams? Does MLS add a second tier to its structure? Does MLS just expand to 50 or 60 teams, or more, and the dilution of the talent pool be darned?

        Dunno. And that’s kinda the question.

    • do you want mls to split into something like an mls premier league and an mls championship league with pro/rel between them? not saying it’s a bad idea.

  5. Please don’t make NCFC a thing! It’s bad enough we’re going to have three United’s, do we really need an NYCFC & NCFC?


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