This is an all too familiar situation for fans in and around the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina. In 2002, Charlotte’s once beloved NBA franchise, the Charlotte Hornets bolted for New Orleans because the franchise and the city could not come to an agreement over a new arena deal.
A similar state of affairs is currently brewing between the Carolina Panthers and the city of Charlotte over discussions of a possible new stadium. Bank of America Stadium has been home to the Panthers since the 1996 season and has been praised by coaches and players around the NFL as wonderful venue for hosting football games.
However, the stadium does need a face-lift. Recently, Charlotte sent city officials on a trip to New York and on that trip they visited MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Giants and New York Jets, just to get a feel for the kind of direction and magnitude NFL stadiums are headed in.
It’s being reported that if the Panthers and city of Charlotte can’t reach a new lease agreement then the team could very well up and move west to Los Angeles, seeing that the NFL would like a franchise there sooner rather than later, or at least by 2016.
The Panthers, although struggling with a 2-6 record this season, are still very popular in the Carolinas. A brand-new stadium appears to be out of the question because of money and due to the fact the Panthers’ current stadium isn’t that old.
It’s more likely that fans will witness major upgrades to the current stadium, with high-definition scoreboards being the first step of improvement. Though, even city backed upgrades could be an uphill battle for team owner Jerry Richardson.
The bottom line is that Los Angeles will be home to an NFL franchise in the near future and some rumors suggest Los Angeles could play host to two teams. Some franchise is going to break the hearts of its fans.
For at least right now, expect the Panthers and the city of Charlotte to work something out in terms of upgrades to the current stadium. Although, fans shouldn’t ignore these discussions of a possible relocation, it’s happened once to Charlotte and it can happen again.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers Columnist. Contact @robertkester1