Panthers unveil 2014 team, stadium upgrades during FanFest - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Panthers to unveil 2014 team, stadium upgrades during FanFest

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -

From what some Panthers' fans are saying, the upgrades to Bank of America Stadium are apparently a hit.

"They're wonderful. I love it" said Terri Lampton of Harrisburg, who has been a season ticket holder with her husband since 2003. "It's so much better than it was last year."

The Carolina Panthers are giving their fans an early treat by holding their annual Fan Fest at their newly renovated home.

Instead of opening their training camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the Panthers began their preseason workouts at Bank of America Stadium on Friday to kick off the team's 20th season.

In addition to the team's two-hour practice, fans saw two new 63-foot-by-212-foot high-definition scoreboards above each end zone. Team executives said the video boards are the fourth largest L-E-D square footage in the NFL.

"I think it's awesome" one fan said. "Helps you see the game better."

There are two new ribbon boards approximately five feet high that encircle the entire bowl at the club and upper levels. No other NFL team has double ribbon boards around the stadium. 

Bank of America Stadium also has a new distributed sound system, with speakers on flag poles around the perimeter of the top of the stadium. Speakers were also placed underneath the upper deck.

And, there are newly installed escalators.

Doug Revis of Morganton said "escalators - that's what I'm liking the most."

"Oh the escalators are nice" said season ticket holder Michael Lampton. "We're in the 500 section and it's really nice going up the escalators because that's a long walk when you get older."

Danny Morrison, President of the Carolina Panthers, said owner Jerry Richardson wanted three things accomplished with the upgrades.

"One - impact 74,000 fans. Two - make sure we improve the fan experience. Three - keep the classic American stadium look and stadium in the park feel."

Morrison said Phase one of the improvements totaled $65M. The city of Charlotte, as part of an agreement with the Panthers, gave $28M in tax dollars.

Morrison said all renovations will be done over the next five years.

In 2016, Morrison said Charlotte city officials will fund $23.5M for stadium improvements, and in 2018 - another $23.5M.

Morrison said it's unclear at this time what renovations will be done in Phase 2. "It's likely that will involve thing like the concourses."

Fan Fest is usually held on the Saturday after the first week of preseason practice at Wofford College. It was moved for an Aug. 2 soccer match.

Fans didn't care it was just the first practice. They filled up about one half of B of A Stadium.

One man said "the first practice is like the kick off to the NFL season. It's going to be awesome. We got a good team for a change. We got a great defense. It's about to be nasty. We're going to the Super Bowl this year. Believe that."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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