by: Paige Hansen Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Carolina Panthers fans are preparing for the second pre-season game this weekend but some fans are rethinking where they'll park to tailgate because of changes made by the main private parking provider.
The company said it has had complaints from customers for years about loud music that turns into a block party and ruins a family atmosphere.
Juanita Woodley and other fans said tailgating is a game-day tradition.
For years, Woodley said they have parked in one of the 50 different lots Preferred Parking operates when the Panthers play.
"The Preferred Parking guy came and was threatening us, basically, 'Turn down the music or you've got to leave,'" Woodley said of her encounter at the first preseason game last week.
In the spring, Preferred Parking met with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the Panthers to talk about the change that is now in effect.
Fans can no longer use or set up amplified sound equipment but can play music on personal sound devices, like iPod speakers.
"If you're buying a single stall, your music should not (be heard) over 50 stalls," Benjamin Sands, Preferred Parking's general manager, said.
Sands said that is what was happening and that multiple people playing amplified music would compete to be heard, creating an environment similar to a block party.
"Eventually those volumes draw crowds, right? They draw dancers and things that obstruct our ability to park cars in spaces," Sands said.
Sands said the change was made over concern for safety for customers and employees.
The new rule is outlined in the company's rules and code of conduct which all customers get when they pay up to $60 to have a spot to tailgate -- a part of being a fan many say is essential.
“You don't even have to go to the game, you can just tailgate,” Juanita Woodley, a fan, said. “We'll find another lot for next game.”
“Our sense is that it will be challenging to implement but once people understand, the positives will far outweigh the negatives," Sands said.
Preferred Parking said it will ask customers who are playing amplified music to first turn it down or off then ask them to leave if they don't comply.
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