By Zach Goins
October 1, 2020
For the first time this season, the Panthers will be playing in front of a live crowd on Sunday when they take on the Arizona Cardinals.
As North Carolina transitions into Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan on Friday, Bank of America Stadium will be allowed to host 7% of the stadium’s capacity, which works out to 5,240 people.
But what exactly does a return to the stadium look like in the era of COVID-19? Well, expect lots of increased safety measures.
“We couldn’t be happier than to be talking about the final bits of preparation to bring fans back to watch the Panthers play,” said Tom Glick, Panthers team president, on a Zoom call Thursday. “There’s been a huge amount of preparation over six, going on seven, months.”
Obviously, face coverings will be required for all fans entering the game, and staff will be present inside the stadium to enforce fans continue to wear their masks unless they are actively eating or drinking. Additionally, the Panthers partnered with Honeywell to provide each guest with a complimentary personal protective equipment pack that contains a mask, hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes.
Beyond that, extra caution will be taken upon entry into the stadium and in regard to movement in the building. Touchless temperature scanners will be used on every guest prior to entry, and no one with a temperature over 100.4 degrees will be allowed inside the game. Once inside the stadium, pedestrian traffic will be divided into one-way lanes and floor markings will help maintain social distancing.
“Our fans should feel confident that they will be safe,” Glick said. “We’re focused on their fan experience, as we always are. This at the end of the day, Panthers games, and sports is about a shared experience and making memories and we will be focused on that.”
Seating inside the stadium will be confined to the lower level and suites, and tickets will be distributed in “pods” of two to five seats. Between each pod will be a minimum of two blocked off seats to maintain distance between parties, and pods will only be seated on every other row.
Concession stands will still be open with limited menus, but they won’t be accepting cash. Instead, the team is encouraging mobile ordering, and is even offering a pre-paid option for $15 that includes a rotating entrée of the game. On average, the pre-paid meal saves fans $20, and it can be purchased on the Bank of America Stadium Ticketmaster page.
As the Panthers seek to build on last week’s win, Glick and the Panthers players and coaches hope the limited number of fans help provide a slight sense of home field advantage.
“Having fans in the building does make a difference, there’s a connection there with the crowd,” Glick said. “While our crowd will be 5,240, on Sunday, those 5,240 will be very important for our team. As a part of that they’re also going to have the opportunity to have their family and friends with them.”
While tickets for the game are still available to purchase online, leading some to speculate fans may be hesitant to return at this time, according to Glick, the Panthers have had no issues selling tickets.
“Sunday will be sold out, it’s gone really well, and that also includes people buying forward for the Bears and the games that come subsequently after that. Our fans are ready to come back,” Glick said. “We’re right on track to be sold out for Sunday, and the future games are also moving quite fast.”
A full guide to the Panthers’ new game day experience as well as FAQs can be found here.