SBD/September 20, 2011/Facilities

NFL Panthers Looking To Hire Firm To Develop Stadium Renovation Plan

The Panthers have spent $30M over the years for upgrades and $10M alone in '08
The NFL Panthers plan to “conduct a search in the coming months for an architecture and design firm to develop a master plan that will guide any makeover” for Bank of America Stadium, according to Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. Industry experts point to “several areas” that could use improvement, including modifying concourses, upgrading luxury suites and "reducing premium seating (suites and club seats) to spur demand.” Likely options include a “massive renovation” similar to the $375M overhaul of the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium in ’10, or a “more deliberate, piecemeal process, tackling various areas of the venue over several years.” Bank of America Stadium opened in ’96, and Panthers President Danny Morrison and Owner Jerry Richardson are “careful to say the team is happy in its current home.” Morrison: “You’re always looking at your facilities and putting together long-term plans of continuing to improve the stadium. That’s really an ongoing process.” Team executives and city administrators said that “they have had no talks about building a new stadium.” Still, “it’s clear the Panthers can’t stand pat.” The team has invested $30M “in stadium upgrades over the years, including $10 million in 2008 for video boards.” Those screens now measure “2,414 square feet in each end zone, up from 768 square feet when the stadium opened.” Spanberg: “A quick glance around the NFL -- or around town -- demonstrates how quickly the Panthers have fallen behind.” Charlotte Motor Speedway unveiled “the world’s largest high-def TV, covering 16,000 square feet.” The Cowboys' $40M, four-sided screens “covering 25,000 square feet provide constant envy and incentive for NFL rivals to go bigger.” Despite the Panthers’ "strong attendance," industry experts said that “the pressures of having one of the larger stadiums while being located in one of the NFL’s smaller cities has become a heavier burden.” That could lead the team to “explore reducing capacity” and potentially turn end-zone seats in the corners of the field into “sponsored party or festival areas” (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/16 issue).

BACK FOR ANOTHER SEASON: The CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL's Spanberg reported the Panthers “renewed sponsorship agreements with the team’s two major beer sponsors, MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch.” And the addition of rookie QB Cam Newton, new head coach Ron Rivera and Richardson’s “recent investment in re-signing key veterans could spur additional interest in the months ahead.” Spanberg notes in some areas, "the effects of the economy and losing campaigns are more obvious." Lengthy sponsorship-renewal discussions with Duke Energy Corp. "have yet to produce an agreement," and the Panthers "lack exclusive ... partners for the wireless-phone and automotive categories" (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/16 issue).
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