Could new name for Carolina Panthers’ stadium be on horizon?

CHARLOTTE — On the day in January 2004 when Bank of America Corp. announced it would put the company’s name on the Carolina Panthers’ NFL stadium, then-CEO Ken Lewis said, “This stadium will never be renamed again.”

Within the next two years, we’ll find out whether Lewis, who retired in 2009, was right.

Many fans have never known the Panthers’ 26-year-old home field as anything but Bank of America Stadium. The bank agreed to a 20-year, $140 million naming rights deal with Charlotte’s NFL team on Jan. 16, 2004.

Industry analysts and other experts told CBJ in interviews this week the Panthers are likely to increase the current average annual naming rights of $7 million from BofA to $8 million to $10 million — either through an extension with the bank or by signing a new naming rights sponsor.

Sources said the Panthers will likely aim higher than that because the stadium is much more heavily used than when it was owned by team founder Jerry Richardson.

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