Bank of America Stadium - Carolina Panthers
Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Bank of America Stadium 800 S Mint St Charlotte, NC 28202
Year Opened: 1996 Capacity: 75,525
Carolina Panthers – Bank of America Stadium
Since 1995, the Carolinas have been home to the Panthers of the National Football League. Initially playing at Clemson University’s Frank Howard Memorial Stadium in their inaugural season, the Panthers would move to their permanent home, Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, the following season. Naming rights would change hands in 2004 when the stadium received its current name, Bank of America Stadium.
Other than their brief stint at Clemson, Bank of America Stadium is the only home the Panthers have known in their nearly 30-year history. This puts the facility in prime discussions as needing significant renovations, or possibly a new stadium altogether. The Panthers do find themselves in a bit of a unique situation, where their current lease has expired while a new agreement is still being hammered out.
Food & Beverage 5
A consistent theme the Panthers stay true to is their representation of the Carolinas, both North and South. This concept is seen in food and beverage options throughout Bank of America Stadium – a nacho stand dedicated to the Greenville, South Carolina native Duke’s BBQ sauces serves a variety of nachos and mac and cheese, while Charlotte-based fried chicken chain Bojangles is also represented with several locations around the 500 level. Carolina barbecue is also featured with pork sandwiches and wings slathered in the vinegar-based Carolina sauce.
Fans also have several self-service options, from grab-and-go markets to self-pour mixed drinks and craft beer stations. Craft beer choices feature nearly 25 options, with high priority given to local breweries. The grab-and-go markets are found only on the 100 level; along the same line of self-service, fans can also order via QR codes posted around the stadium, and pick up their order when it is ready.
Besides the regional foods, some real treats can be found in a handful of carts around the stadium. For 1 pm kickoffs fans can choose from a half dozen egg dishes from QC Breakfast, or even grab some Krispy Kreme donuts. La Caseta and Sabor Latin Street Grill both sell Mexican dishes, regional mac and cheese options can be found at State Line Mac & Cheese, and grilled cheese station Uptown Melts serves its unique creations.
Bank of America Stadium does an excellent job of pulling together the tastes of the Carolinas. Though there are plenty of typical stadium options, they do seem to be average in their preparation. Possibly the best options are at the grill stations in Uptown Market, Mint Street Market, and Queen City Eatery, located just inside the main entry point on Mint Street.
Stadium-wide, concessions prices are reasonable, which is a welcome relief when considering typical stadium price bumps.
Bank of America Stadium’s architectural design is very symmetrical with a completely enclosed, widened rectangle with rounded edges. It seems to have been created toward the end of the current design cycle, as many stadiums built after this used more of a segmented layout. Despite the bit of a dated design, the outside of the stadium does have a bit of a modern feel to it.
The stadium incorporates a lot of black and Carolina blue, with dark glass to make the façade match the team color scheme. The three entry points into the main concourse are bookended with massive panther statues around the stadium, which fans line up to have their picture taken.
During pre-game and throughout breaks in the action on the field, fans are entertained with pieces from the in-game host, interactive fan cams, and the Black and Blue Crew, the Panthers hype squad; along with Panthers mascot Sir Purr, the Black and Blue Crew tries to keep the enthusiasm of the fans up until play resumes.
It is impossible to ignore the breathtaking view of the Charlotte skyline. The best views in the stadium come from the 500 level in sections running from the 550s to the mid-540s. Even though these seats are in the uppermost reaches of the stadium, there is not the feel of being completely removed from the action on the field.
The large video board that runs along almost the entirety of the end of the stadium helps tie the skyline view to the stadium. The nearly 200-foot-long videoboard is matched by an identical one running along the top of the western end of the stadium, and the videoboards are complemented nicely by two ribbon boards that run above and below the 400-level of the stadium.
The stadium itself keeps a consistent color scheme, as is evident with the sea of Carolina blue seats that almost fill the seating bowl. Carolina blue and black are prevalent throughout the stadium, and the two colors complement each other well. Night games highlight how impressive the blue is implemented into the game experience, however, when the stadium lights are dimmed and turned to a deep hue of blue that transforms the stadium – this is a particularly impressive sight to see.
Despite talk of major upgrades, Bank of America Stadium gives fans a positive professional football experience. The atmosphere is hurt a bit by the recent struggles of the team in the win column. It is not that it is an overall disappointing time, but the stadium lacks a certain fervor that typically comes with teams who are either competing for division championships or have a historically passionate fanbase.
On the whole, the stadium itself is easy to like; it just lacks an “IT” factor, which pushes the game-day experience at Bank of America Stadium toward the middle of the pack compared to other stadiums.
Bank of America Stadium is in the heart of Charlotte’s Uptown district, neighbored by Truist Field, home of the AAA Charlotte Knights, and is just a short walk to the Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is also within a mile.
The neighborhood is also populated with several hotels and restaurants in the surrounding area, mostly concentrated to the east. In addition, a handful of bars along Morehead and Eldridge Streets host game day tailgating parties for fans to visit for pregame festivities.
Fans of the Panthers are much like any typical fanbase – when things are going well the Panthers are the talk of the town, but if the team is struggling it shows in the actual turnout for games. Even though the Panthers have not had a great deal of success in recent years, they still rank in the top third of the NFL in attendance. Attendance numbers though are a count of tickets sold, not actual fans at the game, and there are a fair number of empty seats throughout a typical game.
Fans are supportive and get loud during appropriate moments in the game, but the number of fans who are actively engaged from beginning to end is not nearly enough to make Bank of America Stadium an opposing environment that gives the home team a definite advantage.
Outside of the Panther diehards, there does not seem to be an overwhelming frustration over the current win-loss situation that might be seen in some fanbases. This does seem to take something out of the atmosphere when it comes to fans being into the game.
Bank of America Stadium is conveniently located right off the junction of the I-277 bypass and Interstate-77, which runs north/south through North Carolina. The City of Charlotte also has an efficient light rail system that makes commuting to the stadium easier – the CLYNX Blue Line has stops at the Carson, Stonewall, and Convention Center stations, giving fans approximately just a five-minute walk to the facility.
Stadium goers have two checkpoints of entry to the stadium; an outer perimeter security check screens fans before heading in to have their tickets scanned for entry. Each of these lines seems to move rather quickly, and fans do not have extremely long waits in line.
Fans enter into the main level concourse, which passes under the seating area – this does get a bit packed during pre-game when fans are grabbing concessions and making their way to their seats, but it is no worse than would be found at other stadiums around the league. The field-level concourse is a bit narrow and can take some patience to navigate, but escalators also bring fans to the upper level of the stadium, which has a concourse that runs behind the seating area.
Navigating the concourse is no better or worse than most other stadiums around the league. Lines can be rather long during the expected down periods of the game, such as between quarters and at half-time. The positive is that given its proximity to the interstate and public transportation options, getting to and from the stadium is much more palatable than might be seen at many other locations.
Return on Investment 3
Before factoring in Ticketmaster fees, ticket prices start at around $56 for single tickets in the upper reaches of the top deck. The fees increase ticket prices by nearly 20%, and parking adds approximately $45. Ticket prices at face value are understandable, but when factoring in the additional fees, the investment quickly becomes an expensive endeavor.
When looking to get the most affordable experience at Bank of America Stadium, the secondary market might be the best way to go for tickets.
Downtown parking can get a bit expensive – garages just to the east of the stadium run $40. A handful of lots not considered official parking at Bank of America Stadium are more expensive, running $50 to $70, but are more conducive to tailgating. There is also parking within a mile available for as low as $10.
As a whole, NFL games are not the most fan-friendly when it comes to the overall price for a day at the stadium, but using the secondary ticket market or being willing to walk a bit can make the game day experience much more affordable.
A statue of the late Sam Mills memorializes the one-time Panthers linebacker and linebackers coach, outside of the main entry point into the stadium. Mills was signed as a free agent in the Panther's inaugural season and quickly became a fan favorite.
Sam Mills, Jake Delhomme, Jordan Gross, Steve Smith, Wesley Walls, Mushin Muhammad, and Julius Peppers are also recognized in the ring of honor, along the top of the 500-level section of the stadium.
The Play 60 Kids Combine is set up outside of the southern corner of the stadium, with several inflatables and a DJ providing entertainment.
The “Keep Pounding” mantra is seen throughout the stadium and is an integral part of the pre-game festivities. Following the coin toss an honorary drummer unloads four blows to the large six-foot drum before kick-off – the “Keep Pounding” motto came from the aforementioned Sam Mills, who in a pre-game speech implored the team to “Keep Pounding.”
"When I found out I had cancer, there were two things could do: quit or keep pounding. I'm a fighter. I kept pounding. You're fighters, too. Keep pounding!" – Sam Mills
The Panthers have continued to make upgrades to Bank of America Stadium to improve the fan experience, but previous improvements will pale in comparison to the projected $1 billion+ in upgrades the Panthers are looking to make.
Future enhancements to Bank of America Stadium will likely look to provide visitors more of an entertainment destination than is currently being offered. These potential improvements will only add to the current positives that are already a part of the Carolina Panther football experience.