Carolina Railhawks rebrand to North Carolina FC, set sights on MLS

Carolina Railhawks pre-rebrand

The club rebranded to North Carolina FC on Tuesday, with owner Stephen Malik also announcing plans for a 24,000-seat stadium and a goal of getting the club – now in the North American Soccer League, but currently weighing a move to the United Soccer League – into MLS within the next 18 months.

“All along I intended to bring us to the highest level,” he said.

The team currently competes in Cary, North Carolina, but the News Observer reported on Tuesday that Malik is considering eight possible sites for the stadium.

While it might take two to three years to build the stadium, Malik said, the team could move into it after joining MLS.

"If you look at how some things have gone in the past, maybe we could play sooner rather than later,” Malik said. “It all depends on [MLS] and what they’re ready for.”

MLS officials have met with Malik but are weighing numerous expansion possibilities.

“Major League Soccer appreciates North Carolina FC and Steve Malik’s interest in bringing an MLS expansion club to the Triangle,” said MLS Executive Vice President Dan Courtemanche.

“We recently met with Steve and he discussed his exciting vision for growing soccer in the area, including his ambition for an MLS expansion team. We look forward to learning more about his plans as they develop.”