Panthers pleased as Punch over fans’ decision


Carolina Panthers back with fans Image: Carolina Panthers

North Carolina (US) Governor Roy Cooper announced recently that he will allow a capacity of seven percent in large venues able to pack in a crowd of more than 10,000. This will come into effect from October 2, 2020.

Based on the above allocation, the Carolina Panthers would be in a position to boast circa 5,240 fans in attendance for their second home game of the season on October 4th vs. the Arizona Cardinals at the Bank of America Stadium in North Carolina which can sit 74,867 people.

The Carolina Panthers are a professional American football team based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference South division.

The Arizona Cardinals are a professional American football team based in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The Cardinals compete in the NFL as a member club of the National Football Conference West division.

“We are excited to welcome some fans back to the Bank of America Stadium beginning October 4th, and we thank the State of North Carolina, the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County for partnering with us in these efforts,” a team spokesperson said.

“We have worked for months to develop and implement a responsible and comprehensive plan for the return of fans and we are confident that it will ensure that the game day experience is enjoyable and as safe as possible. We will continue to follow guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local and State Government as well as the National Football League, and will be prepared to adjust our policies as necessary,” the spokesperson added.

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference.

No official announcement has been made as yet on the exact number of fans that Mecklenburg County and the Panthers have agreed on. The team anticipates that over the course of the season they will be allowed to gradually increase the number in attendance and the areas of the stadium available for seating.

A statement sent out by Mecklenburg County read, “We have been in communication with the Panthers regarding their plans once the Governor’s Order allows some level of spectators in the stadium. We continue to work with them to refine their plans as they move forward with spectators to assure our community is as safe as possible and will be communicating with them about the specific numbers they anticipate for the next home game.”

Ticket riders

In July this year, personal seat license (PSL) owners were given the option of opting out of their ticket plans this season, while maintaining their PSL ownership for future years. More than 50 percent of owners availed the opportunity.

Those who decided to keep their season tickets for this year were contacted recently and they will have the opportunity to attend two home games this year with the option of choosing between three sets of games – Chicago Bears (10/18) and New Orleans Saints (1/3), Atlanta Falcons (10/29) and Denver Broncos (12/13) or Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11/15) and Detroit Lions (11/22) – with tickets to the October 4th fixture available as an additional option.

Fans will sit in the same seats for both games with available inventory presently in the 100 and 200 levels. Tickets will be selected in order of tenure, with those who have had their PSLs the longest will be accorded the first choice of seats.

Tickets will be distributed in “pods” to support physical distancing with pods of two to five people (the exact number determined by the number of tickets each PSL owner has) located in every other row with at least two seats between groups.

It is expected that fans will be attending games with family members or close friends. The seats selected will only be for the 2020 season and the tarps that were on the first eight rows of the stadium for Week 1 will remain in place.

Single-game tickets are not for sale through the Panthers. Supporters can transfer tickets only to family and friends, but if tickets are posted through a resale site, they must be sold as a pod, not in separate pieces. For example, a PSL owner who has four tickets cannot sell the tickets as two sets of two.

PSL owners will be under no obligation to purchase tickets with ticket holders still being given the option to carry over payments from this year to 2021.

Recently, the Atlanta Falcons announced they would begin hosting a limited number of fans starting with their Week 5 matchup with the Panthers scheduled for October 11th. Carolina will be playing its first three games without the presence of onlookers.

“I like the fans in the building. I like going out amongst the fans sometimes as people probably have seen me out there sometimes. They are an undeniable edge for us. It’s hard not to have fans in the building,” Panthers owner David Tepper stated.

“It’s especially going to be hard not to have fans in the building if all our division rivals have fans in their buildings. We hope that we will have and not have that competitive disadvantage,” Tepper added.

On guard

The Panthers are leaving nothing to chance when it comes to fans’ safety, security and health in the midst of COVID-19 which continues to thwack the United States. From food service enhancements to utilizing the suites in the stadium in unique ways – even if the State remained in Phase 2.

“We have worked tirelessly since March to develop and implement a responsible, comprehensive plan to ensure that your game day experience is enjoyable and as safe as possible,” the team wrote in a letter to fans prior to the start of the season.

The team has put in place a variety of measures to try and make the stadium as safe as possible. The Panthers have tested and planned new ways to give fans enough room to move around safely with concourses split into two lanes going opposite directions with fans always asked to stay on the right side. Arrows have been placed on the floor indicating which direction to walk in.

Each section will enjoy a designated entry gate which will be listed on mobile tickets.

Face coverings have been made mandatory, and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the stadium. Other changes to the match day experience include the Panthers implementing a cashless approach and the team offering fans the option of pre-ordering concessions by 5pm two days before the game, as per the team’s website.

Advanced orders can be placed for a food-and-beverage option for $15, with an average savings of $20 which includes a rotating entrée menu on a game-to-game basis, chips, candy, water and a fountain soda. The order will be redeemed by using the barcode on mobile tickets and can be picked up by the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Limited concessions will also be on offer for purchase inside the arena. Alcohol, as per North Carolina State regulations, will be available for purchase in the facility, but not for pre-order. Fans will only be allowed to eat and drink in their seats.

The Panthers team store is not currently open, but the team hopes it will open later this Fall.

The team also worked in concert with Honeywell to create customized personal protective equipment (PPE) packs for fans and are deploying solutions to monitor air quality in the stadium, apart from having XENEX disinfection robots. The team used computer models and simulations to show how social distancing would be feasible.

The NFL is allowing franchises to determine the number of fans they will have in the stands on a team-by-team basis based on local and State guidelines. Some teams, including the Giants and Jets, have decided that there will be no fans for the entire season, while the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars have all had fans in tow this year.

Tepper continued, “I don’t love all the red ink that we’re going to see this year, but I hate more not seeing the fans in the building. I have other means, OK, of income. I do have other businesses. I’m using this for the fans and for football.”

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