Prior to the 1995 expansion, NFL fans in North and South Carolina were without a team to call their own. The Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons were the usual choice, but both were too far away to feel like local teams. The debate ended when Charlotte, NC, was one of the two cities selected for NFL expansion. Since then, the region has totally embraced the team. After spending most of its history in mediocrity, the Panthers are now usual playoff contenders, which creates even more excitement in an already passionate fan base. While Bank of America Stadium is not visually stunning, the fan experience is hard to beat.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Bank of America Stadium offers a little bit of everything. Hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue, pizza, nachos, and ice cream cover all the basics, but the stadium also offers many recognizable brand foods as well. Subway, Salsarita's, Wendy's, Bojangles', and Krispy Kreme are all available at the stadium.
A number of gluten free products are also available. Items like sandwiches, brownies, beef jerky, ice cream sandwiches, and even beer can all be purchased for those who avoid gluten.
Speaking of beer, among the vast selection of craft beers, there is an entire section devoted to local Carolina beers. This is certainly a must for lovers of local brews.
In all, there are 429 fixed concession points of sale in the stadium and several more temporary stands brought in. This is well above the average stadium which definitely decreases wait times.
All of the seats offer an adequate view. I have personally sat in both the upper and lower levels and cannot complain about either. Just like most NFL stadiums, the aesthetics are sterile and lacking in character. This is aided by the west end zone seats which have a great view of the Duke Energy building. For most night games, the building is lit in a specific color significant to the game or day.
What it lacks in visuals, Bank of America Stadium makes up for in their staff. The staff is unmatched by any stadium I have ever been to. Everyone from the bag checkers to the ushers are very polite.
The Panthers' side of the stadium is in sections 126-137, 336-351 and 535-548. These seats are most easily accessed from the south gate off Morehead Street, though any gate will allow fans to enter onto the 100 level concourse. Seats on the 500 level provide the best view, but also require a lot of walking. A series of ramps provides access to this level, with steep steps to the seating areas on the concourse. If your seats are in the top of the level, this may require up to 100 steps. The view is spectacular, but you may want to limit your trips to the concession stands and restrooms.
The team has taken steps to improve the fan experience, and these additions are quite noticeable throughout the game. The Black and Blue Fan Patrol is in place to keep the crowd fired up during key moments in the game, shoot t-shirts into the seats and make things more lively during breaks in the action. The large video boards at either end of the seating bowl also show highlights of games in progress during stoppages in play and halftime, which helps connect fans to the other action going on around the league. Since most fans are likely checking the games on their phones, this lets everyone keep up with the big plays on a much larger screen.
Downtown Charlotte features tons of options for shopping, dining, and other activities. Unfortunately, not many are near the stadium. The Panthers make an attempt to bring the action to their side of the city, but so far there are only a few small bars. If you are a family and looking for something to do before the game, check out Panthers in the Park. A few blocks from the stadium is Romare Bearden Park, home to the festivities. The event starts a couple hours before the game and includes interactive games, football activities, and meet and greet with the mascot.
After the game, you should look to move to the EpiCentre. This is the main shopping center in the city of Charlotte and is also home to Time Warner Cable Arena which hosts the Charlotte Hornets among other events.
Just as you would expect from southern fans, Panthers fans are passionate and vocal. While they may not stay loud the entire game, they know when they're needed the most. Perhaps the greatest quality in Panthers fans is that they are quite respectful of other teams and fans. You will rarely see a visiting fan face heckling at Bank of America Stadium.
Make no mistake, you will have to face traffic on your way to Bank of America Stadium. Relatively speaking, the traffic is pretty good as is the general flow. It can be a challenge for those unfamiliar with the city as many roads are blocked off. If you get lost, don't worry, the parking staff is polite and can help you get to where you want to go.
You can park near the stadium for about $30 or farther away for about $20. If that seems a little steep, consider the LYNX light rail as an option. Parking is free and round trip tickets are just $4.40. The Stonewall Street station is probably the closest to the stadium.
Once you've gotten to the stadium, you shouldn't have a hard time getting to your seat. The bag check is mostly painless as long as you conform to league's bag policy. The staff is friendly and helpful, making things as painless as possible. The concourse and ramps can get a bit crowded, though, particularly at the end of a game. The amount of fans proceeding down the ramps can make things back up, so some patience is required for ingress and egress.
There are just shy of 100 restrooms around the facility, meaning that there are next to no lines at any point. The restrooms are clean and well-appointed, and there are plenty of family restrooms for those with small children.
Tickets average around $40 (both retail and resale) plus the typical fees. You should expect to spend money when going to an NFL game. Food is a bit pricey, but doesn't quite feel like robbery. While maybe not an amazing value, a Panthers game at least feels like you get what you pay for.
After every win, the song "Sweet Caroline" is played. The song is a crowd favorite no matter where you are, but in this case acts as a reference to the states the Panthers represent.
Very few NFL teams have a drum line. The Purrcussion helps add a little more intensity to the games and keeps with the Panthers slogan of "Keep Pounding."
The game I attended featured a Mascot Bowl prior to the game. This is a full contact college vs pro mascot football game and never fails to excite. The mascots don't hold back and the game can actually be quite entertaining.
Programs are free at the gate which is a nice touch considering some teams charge as much as $20 for them. The program, while smaller in size, offers just as much information as those $20 ones.
There is an out of town scoreboard on the video ribbon which is helpful especially during a playoff push. It is certainly more convenient than checking your phone every five minutes.
Prior to the team's recent success, the knock on Bank of America Stadium was the lack of fans. The stadium itself was (and still is) one of the NFL's best, but there were not enough fans filling it. Well a few offseason moves later, the team is in the national spotlight and now draws much better. With the recent success, Bank of America is now a premier NFL stadium.
It's difficult to imagine it was just seventeen years ago when Charlotte was awarded an expansion franchise. The team has had mixed results over the years and reaching the Super Bowl in 2003 remains the proudest moment for the Carolina Panthers organization.
The franchise has done an exceptional job tying in the moniker and color palette with everything they do. Their branding is effective and you can see why the team enjoys successful profitability off the field.
The drum corps (Purrcusion), team dancers (Topcats), mascot (Sir Purr), luxury pre-game areas and stadium (blanketed in "panther" blue seats) all have been cleverly named to advance this agenda and because of these efforts, you will be highly fulfilled after spending an afternoon at Bank of America Stadium watching pro football.
The Panthers moved into Bank of America Stadium in 1996 after playing their inaugural season at Clemson University Memorial Stadium. Bank of America Stadium is located in the heart of Uptown Charlotte.
This stadium is a great benchmark for the newer stadiums in the NFL. It's heavily guarded by six ferocious bronze Panther statues; below the statues are the names of the PSL owners that helped bring the team to life. Outside of the stadium you can find two more statues worth checking out: One of Mike McCormack, and one of linebacker Sam Mills. These two men have been inducted into the Panthers Hall of Honor.
Many football fans in the Carolinas vividly remember October 23, 1993. On that date, the choice between the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons as the region's "home team" became unnecessary, as the Carolina Panthers were born via a vote of the NFL's owners. After a season in Clemson's Memorial Stadium, the team played its first game in its uptown Charlotte home on September 14, 1996.
The Panthers have made multiple postseason appearances during their time in the Queen City, including three NFC Championship Game appearances and a trip to the Super Bowl after the 2003 season. Though the team has fallen on harder times of late, they still employ one of the league's most dynamic stars in quarterback Cam Newton, a loyal -- if sometimes impatient -- fan base and an innovative staff who are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve the gameday experience.
The small footprint leaves few pre-game options in the immediate vicinity. Light rail works very well before and after the game and is not that far. Great fans who were loud for Cam's coming-out party against the Pats. Food was a bit disappointing.
I haven't done many NFL stadiums, but I definitely like this one. The place is clean, the area is nice, and you get football (though you do feel like you are definitely in a stadium built in the 90's). The sightlines are top notch as well. Add with a competitive football team for about the past decade (save for a few hiccup seasons in between) and you have a great place to watch a game.
FOOD: Most foods are pretty standard with dogs, brats, barbecue (a Carolina staple) and others such as brisket, you have a nice supply of foods to choose from.
ATMOSPHERE: The place is great. Sightlines are fine though you have to scale up to Mt. Everest for the upper level seats. While it isn't a great scenic place, you get a nice, open-air stadium around.
NEIGHBORHOOD: The area is fine, nice, and clean. It offers a lot of food options so you cannot go wrong at all. You also have the new Charlotte Knights baseball park within a few blocks as well. But Charlotte is a great town overall so you really cannot go wrong really anywhere.
FANS: I am a Falcons fan who held season tickets for a few years. I do like my fan base, but I think the Panthers fan base is something else. They are pumped the minute you walk into the game until the game is far over. They are friendly and knowledgeable out the wazoo and won't be afraid to speak their minds.
ACCESS: It isn't entirely too bad, but it depends on what you want to do: walk a while and pay $10-$15 or try to get closer and pay higher? If you do the former, you are in a great area. If you do the latter, it isn't too bad, but you need to make sure you keep an eye on where to go.
ROI: It is okay in terms of prices for tickets and prices for foods & souvenirs. Probably a good bargain for the NFL.
EXTRAS: I really like how they touched up the place for the colors of the team and the panther statues outside. I like how despite being a "young" team, they have a great fan base, and they have some good amenities including a very nice scoreboard that cuts in to keep an eye on the Panther rivals on how they are doing. This is definitely a great NFL experience.
120 North Cedar Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
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