The Carolina Panthers have been very successful for a team that played its first game in 1995. The Panthers have won six division titles and played in four NFC Championship games in 21 seasons. Many other franchises would dream for success like that. Being one of only two professional sports teams in Charlotte, the Panthers have local fans coming out in force to produce one of the better gameday atmospheres in the NFL.
With Cam Newton in the prime of his career, now is as good a time as any to go to a Carolina Panthers game at Bank of America Stadium.
Tickets & Seating Areas
The recent success of the Panthers along with the mediocre performance of the Hornets has cemented the Panthers status as the #1 team in Charlotte. Therefore it’s usually pretty hard to get tickets for the Panthers on the primary maket. The best chance to find tickets on the primary market are when the initial onsale happens in the summer or in the weeks leading up to a game against an inferior opponent. You can buy tickets through the Panthers either online with Ticketmaster, via phone, or at the Bank of America box office. (Make sure not to be confused by the secondary market tickets, aka resale tickets, that may be shown if looking at the Ticketmaster site. Those won’t be priced at face value. You can turn off that feature)
The Panthers don’t vary their ticket pricing based on the opponent.
If you’re looking for tickets, you’ll most likely have to hit the secondary market. Obviously you have the well-known options like Stubhub and the NFL Ticket Exchange or a ticket aggregator (a website that aggregates all of the secondary ticket sites except Stubhub) like SeatGeek and TiqIQ.
There are two Club areas offered by the Panthers that include food.
The Suite 87 Club is located on one end of the stadium with indoor seats accompanied by a complimentary buffet and standard options like a club area with TVs, exclusive parking, and a private bar. The Gridiron Club is one level further up on the other side of the stadium with outdoor seats and the same amenities. The standard Club Seats on the 300 and 400 levels give you access to four different clubs on the 300 Level (one in each corner) and two on the 400 level. Nothing in those lounges is included with the ticket, but each indoor club has televisions showing the other NFL games going on. Suite 87 Club and Gridiron Club members get access to those lounges as well. Club Level seats are also two inches larger than regular seats, which is a nice perk as well.
Getting to Bank of America Stadium is very easy because of its location in Uptown neighborhood of Chrarlotte, the heart of the city. Routes 16, 27, 29, 74 and I-77 and I-85 allow easy driving access to the area. Parking around the stadium is designated for season ticket holders. There are 30,000 parking spaces within a 10-15 minute walk of the stadium, so finding parking for those without season tickets is very easy as well.
You can use Parking Panda to reserve a paid spot ahead of time if you don’t want to worry about it on gameday. Just be careful of not drinking and driving because the cops wait at the bottom of the highway on-ramp after games for people looking to get caught.
You can also take the LYNX light rail service offers service from southwest of Charlotte right to Uptown. Get off at the Carson, Stonewall, or Convention Center stops to be within walking distance of the stadium. There are always taxis for those coming from areas around Uptown. You may choose to walk because that’s easy too.
There’s always tailgating when football is being played and Carolina Panthers games are no different. It’s just not as prevalent because there are only so many parking lots right around the stadium. A lot of the pregame fun is had at the bars and restaurants, which we’ll get to in a bit.
If you’re not in season-ticket parking areas, make sure you’re allowed to tailgate where you’re planning parking. Fans also spread out to grassy areas and side streets to get their tailgate going.
As an alternative, you can bring your own grill and/or cooler and setup camp in the PantherFanz Tailgating Club area. They welcome anyone and everyone. If you didn’t bring any food, do what everyone else who gets there early does. Head over to Bojangles and get the Tailgate Special For those that do tailgate, there are the usual standards that you have to follow, but aren’t as strict as some other stadiums around the country. Grills and other open-flame cooking devices need to be further than 10 feet from any vehicle. The rest of the policies can be found on the Panthers website.
The Panthers do offer their own fan experience before the game called the Panthers Lair, which opens two hours before kickoff. Located on the corner of Mint Street and Morehead Street, the Panthers Lair is free to fans and offers interactive games, giveaways, food trucks, and a DJ. Fans can also meet Sir Purr (the Panthers mascot) and the TopCats (the Panthers cheerleaders). There’s also Panthers in the Park, which is a similar concept a few streets away in Romare Bearden Park. There are more ball-playing activities for kids there at the Play 60 Kids Combine along with appearances from Sir Purr and the TopCats.
Pregame & Postgame Fun
The Dog House offers the best pregame experience as close as possible to Bank of America Stadium. It’s normally a garage, but it turns into a bar on gamedays in conjunction with local radio station WFNZ. It opens two hours before games and has live music, flat screen TVs, and the food and drinks you’d expect at a pregame scenario. There’s even a mini football field in the back to keep you or the kids entertained.
Draught is a relatively new upscale sports bar just north of the stadium. 40 beers on draft are accompanied by a littler of flat screen TVs that deck the walls and the creative food isn’t bad either.
All American Pub, Slate Billiards, and Oak Room offer a great experience as a combination. All three places are connected with a shared wall, but offer a different experience. It gets pretty lively after all Panthers games as well. Tavern on the Tracks is another good sports bar across the street that has outdoor seating as well. There are a few good food options nearby as well for before or after the game. Price’s Chicken Coop down the street offers up some of the best fried chicken in the area. The TIN Kitchen usually parks its food truck nearby and hopefully you can grab their unique tacos, quesadillas, and sliders. The Chicken Tinga and BBQ Brisket tacos really hit the spot.
The bar scene isn’t as good for pregame activities closer to the heart of Uptown.
Connolly’s on Fifth and Ri Ra Irish Pub provide a couple of standard Irish bar options with Connolly’s providing outdoor benches and games. Courtyard Hooligans strays more towards the International sports scene, but isn’t a bad place for a pint. Carolina Ale House and Wild Wing Café provide the sports bar option in chain form.
At the Game
Remember that NFL rules prohibit you from bringing large bags into any stadium. There are no locker or storage areas to put your bags outside the stadium, so you’ll have to return them to your car if you forget to do so before trying to enter the stadium. Fans are not allowed to bring food inside the stadium, but each fan is allowed two factory sealed bottles of water.
There are some definite food favorites at Bank of America Stadium. Hope you’re ready for some good Carolina barbecue. The Hog Molly made its debut at three portable vendor stands on the 500 Level in 2014 and has won over fans. Imagine how much you’d enjoy a beef brisket sandwich with four slices of bacon, cole slaw, pickled jalapeno peppers, fried onions, and barbecue sauce on a Kaiser roll. The pulled pork sandwich at JJR’s BBQ stands may not be the best in the state of North Carolina, but it’s probably the best you’ll find at any NFL stadium. The hush puppies are a nice side to add to the equation. Everyone in the area loves their Bojangles, so it should be no surprise the line for their chicken is amongst the longest in the stadium.
The beer presence has gotten better over the years. There are plenty of local craft beer options. Familiar local options like Captain Jack, Carolina Blonde, Maelstrom IPA, NoDa Brewing Ghost Hop, and Olde Meck Copper are some of the many on offer. The Beer Garden outside of section 101 is the easiest way to survey the options.
Where to Stay
It’s easy to find a hotel when checking out a Panthers game because of where Bank of America Stadium is located. You have typical options like Hilton, Holiday Inn, Hyatt, Marriott, and Westin. Hotel prices should be pretty reasonable. Hipmunk (a travel aggregator) can help you find the best hotel for your needs since it aggregates all your options.
Alternatively you can look into renting houses in the Charlotte area. There are a lot of options and home owners are always looking to make a few bucks.