By selling personal seat licenses to season ticket holders at what is now known as Bank of America Stadium, the Carolina Panthers revolutionized the National Football League before they even played a snap. But now the Panthers are the ones trying to keep pace with franchises that have found new ways to generate revenue.
The Panthers will open their 15th season in the NFL and their 14th at Bank of America Stadium next month, yet team president Daniel Morrison told the Charlotte Observer this week he expects the Panthers to either renovate their current digs or build a new stadium within the next 15 years.
By NFL standards, Bank of America Stadium is already quaint, if not outdated. It is the 14th-oldest stadium in the NFL, and as the Observer noted, older stadiums in cities such as Chicago, Green Bay, Miami, Kansas City and New Orleans have undergone massive renovations over the last several years and become more modern in terms of both appearance and the amenities that bolster the bottom line.
But it’s Cowboys Stadium (opened last year in Dallas) and the New Meadowlands Stadium (opening this year in New Jersey) that have raised the stakes for the Panthers and everybody else.
The Cowboys, which ranked third in the NFL in revenue according to Forbes during their last season at Texas Stadium in 2008, moved into first place during their first season at Cowboys Stadium, which is already a year-round destination: The NBA hosted the All-Star Game there in February and Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey fought for the welterweight crown in March. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is also maximizing revenue by selling standing room only tickets for $30, building a sports bar on the ground level where fans can not only dine but also watch players walking from the locker room to the field and charging $75 for parking.
The New York Giants and New York Jets ranked 18th and 20th, respectively, in the NFL in revenue last year, but Giants president John Mara told the New York Times in 2008 that he expected both teams to soar into the top five once the new Meadowlands Stadium opens. In addition to the PSLs sold by the two teams, the New Meadowlands features nearly twice as many suites (200) as Giants Stadium (118) as well as more than 800 “points of sale” for concessions, more than three times the figure at Giants Stadium. Parking is $50 per car.
The Panthers, meanwhile, ranked 10th in the NFL in revenue last year, up a spot from 2008. The franchise generates most of its revenue from ticket sales at 73,778-seat Bank of America Stadium, which has a little more than 400 “points of sale” for concessions but just 5,000 parking spots. College football makes two annual appearances at Bank of America Stadium with the ACC Championship Game and the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Morrison told the Observer that a visit to Giants Stadium last December—when the Panthers played the Giants in the Giants’ last home game—prompted him to ponder the future of Bank of America Stadium. He won’t have long to wait to get a look at the new Meadowlands Stadium and a glimpse, perhaps, of the Panthers’ future: Carolina will open the season by visiting the Giants on Sunday, September 12.