Bank of America Stadium
The B of A
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
|Owner||Panthers Stadium LLC|
|Operator||Panthers Stadium LLC|
|Field size||132 yds long x 93 yards wide (121 x 80 m)|
|Surface||Voyager Bermuda Grass|
|Broke ground||April 22, 1994|
|Opened||September 1, 1996 (regular season) August 3, 1996 (preseason)|
|Expanded||1997-1998, 2005, 2007-2008, 2014-2015|
|Construction cost||$248 million
($375 million in 2016 dollars)
|Architect||Populous (then HOK Sport)|
|Structural engineer||Bliss and Nyitray, Inc.|
|Services engineer||Lockwood Greene|
|General contractor||Turner/F.N. Thompson|
|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. 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. 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. It has been called "[A] classic American stadium," by Panthers president Danny Morrison due to its bowl design and other features. The stadium will celebrate its 20th anniversary during the upcoming 2016-17 NFL season.
Other sites considered for selection
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.
The stadium was originally known as Carolinas Stadium, a name which remains in use for certain events such as FIFA matches. It 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. In 2004, the stadium received its current name after Bank of America purchased the naming rights for 20 years. 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".
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.
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. Each one depicts a crouching, snarling panther with green eyes; they are the largest sculptures ever commissioned in the United States. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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. Charlotte Magazine later termed the game as the " Water Bowl". Carolina managed to win 16-10.
- 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.
Impact on NFL venues
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. By 2013, the number of stadiums that had either opened or underwent renovations since Bank of America Stadium opened had risen to 25.
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 cellular 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.
The Panthers 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. 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. Despite the lower cost, the renovations would stay true to the team's original plans.
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 and the video boards were among the top ten largest in the NFL when installed. 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.
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, but increased overall seating capacity. The team also added two small ribbon boards above each tunnel entrance which are visible from the stands.
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.
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.
- The ACC Championship Game, played on the first Saturday in December, pits the champion of the Coastal Division against the champion of the Atlantic Division; it had been held at the stadium from 2010 to 2015. In February 2014, the ACC announced a 6-year contract extension to keep the game in Charlotte through 2019, but pulled out of in September 2016 after North Carolina passed the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (HB2).
- The Belk Bowl (formerly known as the Meineke Car Care Bowl and the Continental Tire Bowl), taking place in late December, used to pit a team from the ACC versus a team from the American Athletic Conference. Starting in 2014 the game pits teams from the ACC against the SEC. It has been held annually in Charlotte since 2002.
- The stadium has also hosted several East Carolina Pirates games: in 1996 versus the NC State Wolfpack, in 1999 versus the West Virginia Mountaineers, in 2004 versus NC State, in 2008 versus the Virginia Tech Hokies, and in 2011 versus the South Carolina Gamecocks. The 1996 contest was the first college football game ever played at the stadium.
- Two games in the North Carolina-NC State football rivalry took place at the stadium in 1998 and 1999, respectively, with the Tar Heels winning both times.
- On September 3, 2015, the first Belk College Kickoff Game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the South Carolina Gamecocks took place at the stadium, with the Gamecocks winning 17-13. In 2017 the Kickoff game will feature North Carolina State and South Carolina; in 2018 the game will be played between West Virginia and Tennessee.
- Two more games between South Carolina and North Carolina are scheduled to be played at the stadium in 2019 and 2023.
With a field large enough to meet the regulatory requirements for soccer, Bank of America Stadium has been host to several soccer matches.
- It was a site of the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship in 1999 and 2000.
- On March 24, 2010, the stadium hosted an international friendly match, between Mexico and Iceland; it was the first match between two men's national soccer teams to be held at the stadium.
- On June 9, 2011, the stadium hosted two first round matches of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
- On August 2, 2014, the stadium hosted a group stage match of the 2014 International Champions Cup between A.C. Milan and Liverpool F.C. with Liverpool winning 2-0. 69,364 were in attendance, a stadium record for international soccer.
- On July 15, 2015, the stadium hosted a 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup double header of Cuba vs. Guatemala and Mexico vs. Trinidad and Tobago. There were 55,823 in attendance marking the second biggest crowd of the group stage.
- On July 25, 2015, for the second consecutive year the stadium hosted a 2015 International Champions Cup match between Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, with 61,224 in attendance.
- On July 30, 2016, the stadium hosted a 2016 International Champions Cup match for the third straight year, with the match being between FC Bayern Munich and F.C. Internazionale. Munich won 4-1 with 53,629 in attendance.
- The Rolling Stones performed at the stadium during their Bridges To Babylon Tour on October 10, 1997.
- On June 24, 2012, Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw performed at the stadium during their Brothers of the Sun Tour.
- A four-day Billy Graham crusade was held there in 1996.
- The closing night of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, in which President Barack Obama was expected to deliver his acceptance speech for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, was to be held at the stadium on September 6, 2012. However, due to predictions of thunderstorms, it was relocated to Time Warner Cable Arena.
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- Emporis.com - Bank of America Stadium
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- Home of Carolina Panthers to be Called Bank of America Stadium
- "Chronology". Team History. Carolina Panthers. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
- "Best Public Art in Uptown Charlotte". CBS Charlotte. October 1, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bank of America Stadium.|
- Carolina Panthers – Bank of America stadium page
- Bank of America Stadium at StadiumDB.com
- Belk Bowl official website
- Bank of America Stadium Seating Chart
|Events and tenants|
Clemson Memorial Stadium
|Home of the
|Host of NFC Championship Game
Raymond James Stadium
|Host of the
ACC Championship Game
|Host of the College Cup
Columbus Crew Stadium