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The suite life: Fun and games redone
Carolina Panthers remodel BofA Stadium boxes
 
Published Saturday, July 25, 2015 5:10 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

PHOTO/ASHLEY MAHONEY
The Carolina Panthers have remade suites at Bank of America Stadium to improve the gameday experience for fans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep the fans happy.


As the Carolina Panthers turn 21, the NFL team aims to provide a superior fan experience at Bank of America Stadium with better cell phone service and remodeled luxury suites.


“The total amount that we spent—and these are Panther funds that we spent for all the suite renovations and the (distributed antenna system), is somewhere around $34 million,” said Panthers President Danny Morrison. “Initially, when we embarked on this public-private partnership, the city committed $75 million towards the renovation, which will be paid over several years. The Panthers committed $37.5 million, and to date the Panthers have spent about $71 million, with the $37 million that was spent last year, and the $34 this year.”


In years past, fans would have trouble getting a decent cell phone signal inside the stadium—a major cause for complaint.


“This year, we’ve tried to improve the fan experience,” said Morrison. “We’ve listened to the fans, and what we’ve done, the two major projects,  we did a distributed antenna system, DAS, which improves the cellular. Again, we’re trying to improve the fan experience. We completely redid the whole DAS system, and that will be one of the very best systems in the NFL.”


In addition to improved cell phone reception, the Panthers also improved all of the luxury suites.


“This is our first renovation in these suites for 20 years,” said Scott Paul, the Panthers’ executive director of stadium operations. “It’s our goal that this is the last renovation for the next 20 years.”


Over the past two decades, the Panthers have gathered fan feedback in preparation for this makeover.


“What you’re looking at today is a result of 20 years of conversations with our customers,” Paul explained.


While the atmosphere of a luxury suite is unique, fans wanted more of the field atmosphere to resonate within the suite.


“In the past, they were only able to open up those windows about 50 percent,” Paul said. “Now we can open up every suite window, and hide those windows in the back wall 100 percent of the way.”


In order to keep things warm with those windows open in the latter part of the season, the Panthers installed radiant heat above the first two rows of suites as well as incorporating a third row of bar stools for a better view of the field.


“Our customers told us that they wanted easier access to a lot of their seats,” said Paul. “In the past, the isles were on the left or the right of the suite, and it made the seats on the other end difficult to get to. [In] every suite, we relocated the isle to the middle of the section.”


Furthermore, fans expressed a desire for more than the two televisions each suite included prior to the remodel.


“We have a minimum of five in every suite now for their view[ing] pleasure,” said Paul. Additionally, these suites now include numerous outlets to charge varying hand held devices. “The hand held device is so important today, in what they do,” said Paul.


In order to keep hungry fans happy, the Panthers expanded the stadium’s ability to refrigerate food.


“Our partners at (food services supplier) Delaware North invested a lot of money in food equipment to improve the food and beverage experience here at Bank of America Stadium,” said Paul. “We also doubled the number of refrigeration units in Bank of America Stadium.”


After making numerous improvements last year, the Panthers continue to ride a wave of momentum for updating the stadium.


“This is a continuation of what we started last year,” said Morrison. “As you know, we’re trying to take this classic American stadium, stadium in a park—keep it as one of the very best venues in all the NFL, and certainly we made a lot of progress with that last year. Last year, as you recall, we did the two video boards. We did the two 360-ribbon boards. We did the distributed sound system, escalators, and then the exterior lighting. So all of that last year was about $65 million, and, if you recall, about $28 million was city funded, and then the other $37 million was funded by the Panthers.”


Having to accomplish those tasks in roughly six months, the Panthers have started to look forward to next year’s renovations.


“The concourses, the 100 level, the 500 level—that’ll be the main priorities next year, along with improving the WiFi the following year,” said Morrison. “Concessions. Way finding. Paul and his team, this tells you how you have to get so far ahead of it, because of the compressed time period, they’ve already been working on that.”


As the stadium continues to improve, the cycle inevitably continues with the never entirely answered question of how can this improve?


“The bottom line is, we’re committed to having one of the best facilities in all the NFL. Classic American stadium, we’re going to say that over and over again, because we love this bowl,” said Morrison. “We love the great bones that enabled us to take and keep improving the renovations here.”

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