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PANTHERS INAUGURAL SEASON EXAMINED IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

     The NFL has come to the Carolinas with the winningest
expansion franchise in NFL history, but the Panthers have not
exactly won over their home region, according to a report in
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.  Ed Hinton notes Panthers officials had high
expectations for attendance going into its inaugural season.  The
team decided to play at Clemson's 74,300-seat Memorial Stadium
while Carolinas Stadium is finished so, as Panther Owner Jerry
Richardson put it, South Carolina could "feel a sense of
ownership."  But the Panthers are only averaging 55,399, 5th from
the last in the NFL.  Hinton writes the biggest deterrent is the
fact that Clemson "'home' games are so far from home."  Clemson
is as much as a six-hour trip from the triangle region of NC and
150 miles southwest of Charlotte.  The Panthers also negotiated
with the Univ. of SC for the use of their 72,400-seat stadium,
but the school wanted a $5M rental package, while Clemson only
costs between $2-3M, depending on ticket revenue.  The Panthers
will play to larger crowds next season in their new $160M,
72,500-seat stadium in Charlotte.  The team has already sold
50,000 PSLs and according to local columnist Ron Green: "They'll
sell it out, and they'll never have another empty seat" (SI,
12/18 issue).
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