USLSoccer.com Staff Report
Monday, February 8, 2016
CHARLESTON, S.C. – A new ownership group is in place for one of the USL’s longest-tenured franchises as locally owned B Sports Entertainment (BSE) has purchased the Charleston Battery, team executives announced Monday.
Terms of the deal, which include the MUSC Health Stadium property, the team and its associated USL franchise, were not disclosed.
“This is a fantastic day for soccer in Charleston,” said Charleston Battery President Andrew Bell. “We have an amazing, innovative new ownership group that is 100 percent committed to continuing the Battery’s incredible legacy while continuing to grow its ties to the community. They are going to be immediately investing heavily in the infrastructure here at the stadium, which will allow us to accelerate our recent growth.”
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Some of that investment began even before the deal was finalized. Renovation of the offices at MUSC Health Stadium on Daniel Island started in January. The stadium’s new Interstate 526 electronic message board began operation last week. A major overhaul of the stadium’s audio system is on schedule to be in place before the start of the regular season on March 26, and an upgrade to digital infrastructure will provide free, Gigabit high-speed wireless Internet to users throughout the complex by this summer.
The most notable improvement at the stadium will be the installation of the second-largest video board in South Carolina on the South Concourse. With a viewable area of almost 3,000 square feet and state-of-the-art control and resolution, the 90-by-32-foot screen will be a game-changer, Bell said.
“Fans expect instant replay at sporting events, but to do that with some quality requires expensive technology,” Bell said. “So this is going to be brilliant. The Battery has deep roots in soccer history, and BSE has a bold vision for soccer’s future. It’s going to make for a very exciting year.”
Construction and installation of the board is expected to be complete in the early spring, and the display will showcase a technologically sophisticated new digital platform combining streaming and social media. Those capabilities also align well with the new ownership group’s plans to host more events at the stadium, Bell said.
Since its inception in 1992, the Battery had been owned by a group of Charleston business people led by tech entrepreneur Tony Bakker. Bakker’s group introduced professional soccer to the Lowcountry, built the first privately financed soccer-specific stadium in the United States (a distinction shared with Ohio’s MAPFRE Stadium) in 1999, and pioneered the concept of hosting preseason tournaments with Major League Soccer. The Battery has also won four league championships along the way.