Bank of America Stadium

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Bank of America Stadium
The Bank
The BOA
The B of A
The Vault
Bank of America Stadium logo.png
BofAStadium2015.JPG
The stadium before a 2015 game
Former names Panthers Stadium (planning)
Carolinas Stadium (planning)
Ericsson Stadium (1996–2004)
Location 800 South Mint Street
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
Coordinates 35°13′33″N 80°51′10″W / 35.22583°N 80.85278°W / 35.22583; -80.85278Coordinates: 35°13′33″N 80°51′10″W / 35.22583°N 80.85278°W / 35.22583; -80.85278
Public transit Stonewall
Owner Panthers Stadium LLC
Operator Panthers Stadium LLC
Executive suites 153
Capacity 75,412 (2015-present)[1]
74,455 (2014)[2]
73,778 (2008-2013)[3]
73,504 (2007)[4]
73,298 (2005-2006)[5]
73,250 (1998-2004)[6]
73,248 (1997)
72,685 (1996)[7]
Field size 132 yds long x 93 yards wide (121 x 80 m)
Surface Voyager Bermuda Grass
Construction
Broke ground April 22, 1994[8]
Opened September 1, 1996 (regular season) August 3, 1996 (preseason)
Renovated 2007, 2014-2016
Expanded 1997-1998, 2005, 2007-2008, 2014-2015
Construction cost $248 million
($374 million in 2016 dollars[9])
Architect Populous (then HOK Sport)
Structural engineer Bliss and Nyitray, Inc.
Services engineer Lockwood Greene[10]
General contractor Turner/F.N. Thompson[11]
Tenants
Carolina Panthers (NFL) (1996–present)
Belk Bowl (NCAA) (2002–present)

Bank of America Stadium is a 75,412-seat football stadium located on 33 acres (13 ha) in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. It is the home facility and headquarters of the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League.[12] The stadium opened in 1996 as Ericsson Stadium before Bank of America purchased the naming rights in 2004. In addition to the Panthers, the stadium hosts the annual Belk Bowl, which features teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and was supposed to host the annual ACC Championship Game through at least 2019, however the game was moved as of 2016.[13][14][15][16][17] The largest crowd to ever attend a football game at the stadium was on December 5, 2015 when 74,514 fans watched the Clemson Tigers defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels 45-37 in the 2015 ACC Championship Game.[18] It has been called "[A] classic American stadium," by Panthers president Danny Morrison due to its bowl design and other features.[19] The stadium will celebrate its 20th anniversary during the upcoming 2016-17 NFL season.

Other sites considered for selection[edit]

The Panthers organization considered several possible sites for the stadium's location before choosing the Charlotte center city site. Part of the site was occupied by the historic Good Samaritan Hospital. One alternative was near NASCAR's Charlotte Motor Speedway and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in northeast Mecklenburg County. Another was at the intersection of I-85 and US 74 in western Gaston County. A popular option was to locate the facility near Carowinds amusement park, with the 50 yard line being on the state border of North Carolina and South Carolina.

Naming[edit]

The stadium, originally known as Carolinas Stadium, a name which remains as an alternative venue name for events which require sponsor neutralization such as FIFA matches, opened in 1996 as Ericsson Stadium after the Swedish telecom company LM Ericsson purchased the naming rights to the stadium in a ten-year, $25 million agreement.[20] In 2004, the stadium received its current name after Bank of America purchased the naming rights for 20 years.[21] Since Bank of America acquired naming rights, many fans now refer to the stadium as either "The Bank", "The BOA", "The B of A", or "The Vault".[22]

Stadium features[edit]

Bank of America Stadium has many unique external features. Aspects of the stadium's architecture, such as the three huge main entrances, incorporate the team's colors of black, process blue and silver. Arches that connect column supports on the upper deck resemble the shape of half a football, while several acres of numerous trees and landscaping surround the building. The stadium's architecture and design has been compared to that of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Soldier Field, among others. It's also received mentions for externally resembling "a fortress" instead of a stadium.[23]

Each of the stadium's entrances are flanked on both sides by two larger-than-life bronze panther statues, something unique throughout the entire NFL. These six statues are all named "Indomitable Spirit" and were installed in 1996.[24] Each one depicts a crouching, snarling panther with green eyes; they are the largest sculptures ever commissioned in the United States.[25][26] The names of the team's original PSL owners are engraved into each statue's base.

Another striking feature the stadium contains are its six light domes. These are found on top of the main entrances, two per entrance, and sit over a hundred feet in the air. Originally, they simply glowed the Panthers' unique 'process blue' every night. As the seasons wore on, the emitted light became less and less impressive and the domes started showing their age. During the 2014 renovations, the domes were rebuilt with LED systems. They can now be seen again projecting process blue nightly in various ways not possible with the original technology.[27]

Additionally, the two people currently in the Panthers Hall of Honor, former team executive Mike McCormack and former Panthers linebacker and assistant coach Sam Mills, are honored with life-sized bronze statues outside the stadium.[28] Before the 2014 renovations, the names of the hall of honor inductees were placed where the upper ribbon board now resides. These names (at least Mills') were subsequently repainted onto the top rear wall behind the last row of seats. Additionally, three marble copies of a quote about the stadium from team founder and owner Jerry Richardson were placed near the stadium's entrances in 2014.[29]

In 2016, a statue was added in front of the stadium's north gate in celebration of Richardson's 80th birthday. The statue stands almost thirteen feet tall and features larger than life sculptures of Richardson flanked on both sides by two panthers. One panther stands on its hind legs, claws bared, while the other crouches. All three sculptures have the same bronze color and both panthers have the green eyes of and physically resemble the "Indomitable Spirit" statues.[30]

Carolina Panthers[edit]

The stadium in 2006.

In addition to hosting every Panthers home game since 1996, Bank of America Stadium has also hosted seven playoff games and Carolina has had over 125 consecutive sellouts at the stadium starting with the 2002 season.[31]

Inaugural season[edit]

The Panthers played their inaugural season at Clemson University's Memorial Stadium while the stadium was being constructed. On August 3, 1996, the stadium played host to its first professional football game as the Panthers took on the Chicago Bears during the preseason. The inaugural kickoff was at 7:35 PM and Carolina won 30-12.[32] The stadium's first regular season game took place on September 1, 1996 against Carolina's to-be division rival Atlanta; the Panthers won by a score of 29-6.[33]

Playoff games[edit]

In 1996, on their way to their first NFC Championship Game, Carolina defeated the then-defending Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys in the first playoff game the stadium hosted. Again they defeated the Cowboys on their way to Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. Carolina was handed their first ever home playoff loss, 33-13, by the Arizona Cardinals on January 10, 2009 in the divisional round. The Panthers suffered a second home playoff loss against the San Francisco 49ers 23-10 on January 12, 2014 in the same round. On January 3, 2015, the Panthers won their first home playoff game in 12 years, defeating the Arizona Cardinals 27-16. En route to their fourth NFC Championship game appearance, the Panthers beat the Seattle Seahawks 31-24 in the divisional round on January 17, 2016. The Panthers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC Championship game for their second NFC Championship in franchise history on January 24, 2016. This marked the first NFC Championship played and won at the stadium.

Weather events[edit]

Since it is an open-air stadium, Bank of America Stadium has been subject to a number of events caused by extreme weather.

  • Perhaps the most memorable weather-related game the stadium played host to wasn't forecasted in advance. During a week 3 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011, a huge rainstorm suddenly blanketed the stadium towards the end of the second quarter. This caused a stunning sight: access water on the upper deck poured onto the lower deck and subsequently onto the field, every spot resembling miniature waterfalls. The field soon became flooded. CBS cameras captured numerous images, including players, some fans (many were in the concourses) and cheerleaders braving the elements. Overall, four-plus inches of rain fell in under an hour.[34] Charlotte Magazine later termed the game as the "[2011] Water Bowl".[35] Carolina managed to win 16-10.[36]
  • In week 16 of the 2013 season, with the Panthers playing the Saints in a game that would give the Panthers a playoff berth, heavy rain and wind hit the stadium during the second quarter. Unlike the Jacksonville game, where wind had been a non-factor, the fans stayed in their seats and the rain moved on minutes later. The Panthers eventually won 17-13.
  • On a Monday night game during the 2015 season, a heavy rain kept up all night, making field conditions miserable. However, the fans again braved the elements. The Panthers held on to win 29-26.
  • In the days leading up to the 2015 NFC Championship game, the field and sections in and around the stadium were covered in snow and an ice/sleet mixture. However, the Panthers grounds crew along with help managed to clear the field before the game. Most of the snow/sleet around and/or inside the stadium was either cleared or had melted before the game began.
  • On July 11, 2016 a severe storm hit the Charlotte area. Several lightning bolts struck the middle of the stadium, hitting the field. No one was injured.[37]

Impact on NFL venues[edit]

At the time of its construction in the mid-1990s, the stadium was a pioneering project for the use of Personal Seat Licenses. It was the first large-scale project funded in the United States chiefly through securing PSLs, which were a new idea themselves. The strength of PSL pledges impressed NFL owners and helped result in the Carolinas receiving the first NFL expansion team in nearly two decades. The Seattle Seahawks used the stadium, among others, as a reference when designing CenturyLink Field.[38] By 2013, the number of stadiums that had either opened or underwent renovations since Bank of America Stadium opened had risen to 25.[39]

Stadium renovations[edit]

One of the video boards installed in 2014.

During its first few seasons the stadium was considered so far ahead of its time that until the 2013-14 offseason, it only underwent minor improvements (aside from seating additions). The most notable of these improvements came in 2007 when the original scoreboards, video boards and displays from 1996 were replaced with 31.5' x 77' video boards and four ribbon boards: two spanning the length of the field on either side and two in opposite corners.

In the following years the stadium still wasn't considered as up-to-date as other NFL stadiums. Several reasons existed for this, including a lack of surround sound, smaller video boards when compared with the rest of the league and poor cell reception, among others. During the 2013 offseason, the team renovated their home locker room. It now contained 74 lockers compared to 66 before, the interior looked more clean and modern, and the team's then-new logo was added throughout.[40]

Carolina proposed a $250 million stadium renovation project in early 2013, pending a vote by the city of Charlotte to help pay for it. This plan included two sets of new scoreboards, multiple escalators (possibly elevators), infrastructure and concourse improvements, among others.[41] The subsequent vote by the city failed and efforts to get any money from the State of North Carolina failed as well. However, in April 2013 the Charlotte city council agreed to an $87.5 million deal for the renovations. This deal also keeps the Panthers in Charlotte until at least 2019.[42] Despite the lower cost, the renovations would stay true to the team's original plans.

2014[edit]

In January 2014, the Panthers began the most significant renovations to the stadium in its 18-year history as part one of a multi-year renovation plan. The upgrades, completed by the start of the 2014-2015 NFL season, included numerous enhancements. First and perhaps most striking of all, two 200' x 56' HD video boards (over twice the size of their predecessors), and two 360° ribbon boards from Daktronics replaced the previous scoreboards/ribbon boards. The new ribbon boards were the tallest in the NFL[43] and the video boards were among the top ten largest out of all NFL stadiums when both were installed.[44] Secondly, escalators were installed for the upper deck, making access easier for fans. These warranted extensions to the building itself which retained the stadium's original external designs. A new surround sound system was also included, with speakers placed around the perimeter of the bowl doubling as flagpoles. In addition, four covered open-air sections on the upper deck called "fan plazas" were added. Finally, LED-enhanced glass domes were installed along with new external signage above the main entrances.[45]

2015[edit]

Prior to the start of the 2015 season, the Panthers renovated all 158 existing luxury suites to the stadium and added a new private club suite, dubbed "The 32 Club" due to its position at the 32-yard line. The team later announced another new club, dubbed the "51 Club" in honor of former player and coach Sam Mills, would also be added. These new installations decreased the stadium's number of luxury suites to 153,[46] but increased overall seating capacity. The team also added two small ribbon boards above each tunnel exit which can be seen on the field.

2016[edit]

Part three of the renovations included upgrading the upper-level concourse with buffet-style drink stations and installing double the amount of wi-fi access points than before. Updated signage reflecting the team's current logos and word mark was added to the upper concourse, as well as improved concession stands. Most notably, almost 100 full-body scanners will replace the traditional "pat-downs" at the main entrances and a new security office has been added, as well as other security improvements.[47]

College football[edit]

Kickoff to start the second half of the 2010 ACC Championship Game

Bank of America Stadium does not serve as the primary home stadium for any college football team. However, it has hosted several college football games.

Soccer[edit]

Mexico vs Iceland, 2010

With a field large enough to meet the regulatory requirements for soccer, Bank of America Stadium has been host to several soccer matches.

Other events[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Stadium Facts". Carolina Panthers. Retrieved December 4, 2015. 
  2. ^ "2014 Carolina Panthers Media Guide" (PDF). Carolina Panthers. p. 432. Retrieved August 24, 2014. 
  3. ^ Zeise, Paul (December 22, 2009). "Meineke Bowl Notebook: Wannstedt -- Bowl games are 'healthy'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Panther Fixes on Keeping Home Fresh". The Charlotte Observer. August 5, 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Clemson, Temple Agree to Charlotte Site". The Post and Courier. April 5, 2006. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  6. ^ Spanberg, Erik (January 16, 2004). "Panthers sign BofA for stadium naming rights". Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Stadium Credit Cards Offered to Panthers Fans". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. June 28, 1996. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  8. ^ Friedlander, Andy (April 25, 1994). "It's up, it's good; Panthers win toss". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  9. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved November 10, 2015. 
  10. ^ Friedlander, Andy (August 29, 1994). "Richardson Learning as Stadium Rises". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 
  11. ^ Emporis.com - Bank of America Stadium
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  13. ^ "Conferences". Raycom. Archived from the original on December 3, 2007. Retrieved December 25, 2007. 
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  20. ^ Hardin, Ed (June 27, 1996). "Panthers' New Home Gets Name That Doesn't Quite Ring". Greensboro News Record. pp. C1. 
  21. ^ Home of Carolina Panthers to be Called Bank of America Stadium
  22. ^ http://charlotte.about.com/od/CharlotteEventVenues/a/Bank-Of-America-Stadium.htm
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  58. ^ http://www.panthers.com/news/article-2/Champions-Cup-Soccer-Returns-to-Charlotte/87bbc916-cf42-4900-8a20-9bfb8540d748
  59. ^ http://prod.static.panthers.clubs.nfl.com/assets/docs/Carolina-Panthers-Media-Guide.pdf

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Clemson Memorial Stadium
Home of the
Carolina Panthers

1996–present
Succeeded by
current
Preceded by
CenturyLink Field
Host of NFC Championship Game
2016
Succeeded by
current
Preceded by
Raymond James Stadium
Host of the
ACC Championship Game

2010–present
Succeeded by
current stadium
Preceded by
Richmond Stadium
Host of the College Cup
1999–2000
Succeeded by
Columbus Crew Stadium