CHARLOTTE – The fourth and final offseason of Bank of America Stadium renovations centered around the fan experience are underway, with improvements being made to areas that fans on the 100 level and in the Silver Club Seats frequent on game day.
The projects will be completed in time to welcome fans back for the 2017 season. And what a welcome it will be.
"When we started this journey seven years ago with architectural firms and general contractors and our people, we wanted to make a positive impact on the fan experience," executive director of stadium operations Scott Paul said. "Once we finish this phase, our fans are going to have a brand new stadium. In the areas they see and touch and feel on game day, it's going to be a brand new stadium."
In this phase, the 100 level is being redesigned much like the 500 level was last offseason, featuring new signage and increased points of sale for concessions, which will include an all-you-can drink soda option.
"We're really focused on speed of service," Paul said, "to get people in and out of lines so they can focus on the game."
That's also a goal in the reimagined club level lounges on 300 and 400 levels, though some fans might have a hard time breaking away to head back to their seats once they lay eyes on the large-format televisions in the works. While the lounges previously surrounded fans with 55-inch televisions as they waited to place their food order, some lounges will now feature a single screen the size of about 15 55-inch televisions.
"We're going in a different direction with how people will see the game," Paul said.
Once fans return to their seats, they might not notice a difference with the field itself, but that is being rebuilt this offseason as well. The field has been dug up entirely so that a new, more efficient irrigation and drainage system can be installed.
"We have redone the field itself several times over our history, but what we haven't done before is rework all of the draining tile and irrigation lines," Paul said. "It's a four-month project. Our stadium is shut down this offseason for all events, so we figured this would be the best year to do this."
Some more "back of the house" updates are expected over the next two offseasons, but the changes impacting the Panthers' most important houseguests should be completed just before the season starts.
"This will conclude the four phases of fan-facing renovations," Paul said. "We have hit everything now – the 100, 300, 400, 500 levels, the suites, the escalators, video boards, ribbon boards, sound system, cell coverage, Wi-Fi and the entrance points to the stadium.
"We'll continue to try to improve the experience, but we've made a huge impact on it."