• City decked out with Panthers' blue ahead of big game

    By: Kathryn Burcham


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - City and county officials have launched a social media and signage campaign uptown to support the Panthers ahead of Sunday's playoff game versus the 49ers.

    On Wednesday crews began hanging pole banners with the Panthers logo in uptown and putting posters at CATS bus stops.  Buses and the light rail will also bear Panthers signage, officials said.

    Officials are asking businesses uptown to use blue lighting on Friday night and are encouraging residents to wear Panthers fan gear or all black on "Fan Friday."

    Mayor declared Fan Friday in preparation for Sunday's game

    "We are really painting the city with Panthers. We are trying to make it easy for people to be fans," said Moira Quinn, with Center City Partners.

    Panthers players told Channel 9 the visual support was exciting and that they were thankful for the continued support in the post season.

    Download official Panthers Pride poster

    "I think it's pretty incredible that a game like football can bring a community together like that and it's exciting," said center Ryan Kalil.

    Coach Ron Rivera said he appreciates that Carolina fans remain steadfast, win or lose.  "It's a lot of fun, exciting to know that they're behind us and we are going to give them our best show on Sunday," Rivera said.

    City leaders said the Panthers' successful season has also been an invaluable asset in attracting economic investment and development to the area.

    Panthers Steve Smith says he'll play Sunday

    "It's really hard to put a number on what the Panthers do for the city, because we are on national television Sunday after Sunday," said Quinn.

    Panthers prep stadium, field ahead of big game

    Bank of America Stadium was full of activity inside and out with grounds crews busy putting down the blue painted logo that millions will see on Sunday.

    The re-sodding and painting off the field was delayed by this week’s frigid temperatures. The work on the field will take two and a half days and use anywhere from 60 to 100 gallons of paint.

    IN PHOTOS: Stats, nuggets, history Panthers vs. 49ers

    Channel 9 spoke with the head groundskeeper, Tom Vaughn, who has worked for the Panthers for 16 years and said he has painted more than 120 times. But Vaughn said the only thing that made this job different ahead of the big game was the weather delay.

    Crews finished the end zones Wednesday and should complete the final touches Thursday, which the groundskeeper called a meticulous process especially with all those millions of eyes that will be on Bank of America Stadium.

    For complete Panthers coverage leading up the game, visit our Panthers section here.

    Panthers Pride Kickoff Party live Friday

    Channel 9 will bring you everything Panthers playoffs in prime time Friday night.

    Join Eyewitness News anchors Erica Bryant and Blair Miller at 8 p.m. for the Panthers’ Pride Kickoff Party live from the EpiCentre. We will have player interviews, important information for fans about traffic, parking and tickets.

    Plus ESPN.com David Newton will be answering fans’ questions live on Twitter. The show airs live from 8 - 9 p.m.

    For more details on the live show, click here.

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    City decked out with Panthers' blue ahead of big game