CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Fans hoping to watch their Carolina Panthers take on the Las Vegas Raiders during the team’s home opener will have to do it somewhere other than Bank of America Stadium.
The NFL franchise said on Monday afternoon that government health officials have declined the team’s request to have fans at the first game in two weeks. On Monday, the Carolina Panthers posted a letter on its website addressing fans about the team’s home opener.
“Despite our best efforts, we are deeply disappointed to share that you will not be with us at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 13 when we open the season against Las Vegas,” the post read.
According to the post, team officials have been working tirelessly since March to develop and implement a responsible, comprehensive plan to ensure that the gameday experience is enjoyable and as safe as possible for fans.
“This is not a choice between a full stadium or an empty stadium. We have offered compromises and alternatives. We will continue reaching out to government officials regarding options for future games,” the post read.
A Mecklenburg County spokeswoman said Monday the health plans submitted by the Panthers are comprehensive and praised the NFL team for strengthening the proposed policies. But, she said, the state health and human services department ultimately denied the request for fans to be at the Sept. 13 game.
Once fans are allowed to attend games at the stadium, they can expect safety measures, including face-covering requirements and temperature checks as well as enhanced cleaning procedures.
The organization has also planned and tested new ways for fans to enter and move safely around the stadium.
In addition, the Panthers have worked with Charlotte-based Honeywell to create a customized personal protection equipment pack and is deploying solutions to monitor air quality throughout the facility.
When the team can bring back fans, it plans to conduct temperature checks for everyone and require face coverings. Other planned changes include cashless transactions throughout the stadium, single-use cups, silverware and plates at concession stands, masks for all staff and part-time workers, and so-called pod seating to create distance between fans.
The team also assured fans that an empty stadium will not affect their performance on the field.
>> Click here to read the full letter.
Head coach Matt Rhule said he’s disappointed for the fans.
“Obviously, disappointed but at the end of the day as a football team, we’re gonna focus on what we can control and prepare ourselves for playing in front of no fans,” Rhule said. “But we know there’s gonna be thousands and thousands of Panthers fans that are home, watching on TV, cheering the team on so we want to give them something to be really proud about.”
Rhule said he hasn’t been involved in any of the discussions related to fan attendance.
The next scheduled home game is Oct. 4 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Like many teams, the Panthers have already offered season ticket holders the option of not buying tickets for 2020 because of uncertainty about capacity and seat location. Single-game ticket sales have been halted, and those who already bought single-game seats have been offered refunds. If fans are allowed at the stadium this season, sales would begin with season ticket holders interested in buying tickets for a limited number of games.
According to Forbes, the Panthers generated $76 million from ticket sales in 2018 out of total revenue of $424 million. The capacity at BofA Stadium is 75,000. Last season, an average of 72,221 fans attended Panthers home games, according to NFL data. That average is for tickets sold and distributed, not actual turnstile counts.
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