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PANTHERS INAUGURAL SEASON EXAMINED IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED
Published December 15, 1995
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).