MLS expansion side Charlotte FC appoints Nick Kelly as club president
CHARLOTTE — Charlotte Football Club announced that Nick Kelly has been named club president. Kelly will be responsible for the team’s day-to-day business operations.
Kelly comes to Charlotte FC following six years with Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), where he most recently served as vice president of partnerships, beer culture and community. In this role, Kelly oversaw all company partnerships in the sports, music and entertainment fields across the United States.
“Soccer has arrived in Charlotte, and we have an incredible opportunity to build an organization and a culture of fandom that rivals the top teams in MLS,” said Kelly. “When I met David Tepper and Tom Glick, I was attracted to the exciting vision they had for what Tepper Sports & Entertainment can be for the Carolinas and I look forward to helping realize that vision with Charlotte FC.”
With AB InBev, Kelly was instrumental in the development of its sports marketing strategies for league, team and player partnerships within MLS, the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, NASCAR, PGA, NWSL, and the Olympics. In 2018, Kelly played a key role in unlocking the use of active athletes with the first-of-its-kind player-rights deal in the beer category with the NFLPA, NBPA and MLBPA.
“We are delighted to have Nick join us to lead our new Major League Soccer club,” said Tom Glick, president of Tepper Sports & Entertainment. “He is a highly talented executive with a passion for and understanding of soccer. We kick off in 15 months, and with Nick’s arrival, we are poised to shift gears as we build a winning club that serves fans, partners and our community in Charlotte and across North and South Carolina.”
Kelly brings extensive experience in soccer marketing, as AB InBev holds sponsorship agreements with more than a dozen MLS clubs and has partnered with numerous major tournaments, including the Olympics, FIFA World Cup, International Champions Cup and Copa America. Under Kelly in 2019, Budweiser became one of the first official partners of the National Women’s Soccer League and led efforts to emphasize the importance of supporting women’s sports in the United States.
“We are thrilled to welcome Nick to the team,” said David Tepper, owner of Charlotte Football Club. “Nick has a track record of connecting brands with fans across all sports and will bring fresh ideas to Charlotte FC. In the past year, we have assembled a strong sporting staff, led by Zoran Krneta, and have continued to build our business staff. Nick’s hiring comes at the perfect time as we turn our attention to preparing for an exciting first season in 2022.”
Kelly was an integral part of numerous high-profile marketing efforts while with AB InBev, including the recent #boothecomish campaign, Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest, and the Victory Fridge campaign focused on rewarding fans of the Cleveland Browns. Kelly also managed the business of Anheuser-Busch’s heritage brands, overseeing a team of more than 700 employees that drove all licensing and brand experiences, Grant’s Farm, and the world famous Clydesdales.
Kelly is a two-time honoree of Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 (2017 and 2020), an annual celebration of the best young talent in sports business. Sports Business Journal also highlighted Kelly in 2018 as a key executive who exemplified commitment and success in sports sponsorship and marketing for AB InBev and in 2019 was listed as the 34th most influential executive in sports. In December 2019, AB InBev was recognized as the Sponsor of the Decade by Sports Business Journal. Kelly is also the recipient of the 2012 PR News’ 15 to Watch Award.
Prior to joining AB Inbev, Kelly served as the Senior Manager of Integrated Marketing Communications with NASCAR, headquartered in Charlotte. He also worked for MGH, an advertising and marketing company based in Baltimore, Md., and Charles Ryan Associates, a brand communications firm in Charleston, W.Va.
Kelly earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business from Marshall University, where he played football from 2001-04. Kelly is a native of Virginia Beach, Va., and is married to Kristen. He will officially join Charlotte FC on Feb. 1.