Sports fan bases are the most critical part of every professional organization! Athletes have gifted physical abilities and make tons of money because of that, but for many of them the greatest joy is playing for the fans and trying to win them championships. The reality is sports are nothing without fans otherwise there wouldn’t be trash talk or really anything for the players to feed off of during competition. The NFL has some of the most passionate fans in the whole world. The Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers coming to mind right away as having two of the biggest followings in sports history; they’ve been around for decades allowing that passion to be passed down from generation to generation. The way fans come together and root for their teams is the best part of sports and that’s a big reason why it’s my passion.
The Growth of Panther Nation
The NFL like all other sports went through an expansion draft in 1995 allowing the Carolina Panthers to become an NFL franchise. Thus allowing the growth of one of the more underrated fan bases to be born. Although, I wasn’t born early enough to see this franchise from the beginning I’ve been around long enough to learn the Queen city loves their Panthers no matter what! This franchise has been through it all the magical Super Bowl run with the cardiac cats 2003; also a few forgettable years most recently a 2-14 showing in 2010. It wasn’t all lost because we were able to draft our franchise quarterback Cam Newton and bring optimism to the Queen City once again! Through all that this fan base has stayed loyal and are beginning to see consistent winning football it just goes to show you patience pays off for everyone involved in sports.
The Panthers were the first team in our division to win back-to-back division titles! We as fans have responded in a big way last season we ranked 8th in attendance averaging 73,607 per home date and a total of 588,861! This not only shows passion and loyalty, but we are starting to see the passion being passed down from generation to generation that many franchises have enjoyed for much longer than the Panthers. The winning by this team in recent years has helped them grow this fan base to where it is today!
Another key factor helping this fan base grow is the development of downtown Charlotte! The area includes the best minor-league ballpark since opening last season; paired with Bank of America Stadium, downtown has become a great atmosphere for fans of all ages to enjoy the sports the Queen city has to offer! Another great thing about sports the fans that have been a part of Panther Nation from the beginning are now carrying on the tradition their parents started when they were younger! Now becoming PSL owners themselves cheering on the Panthers season after season passing on the joy to their kids. I’m an example of that as my first Panther game was when I was six years old and I am now 19 a season ticket holder with my dad and I believe when I’m old enough, I will become a PSL owner carrying on the tradition as I am a diehard Panther fan for life.
This off-season there has been a buzz about the Panthers that I haven’t seen in a while! The fans have come out in droves to support this team evidenced by the record-breaking numbers at training camp and Fan Fest this year. There are still three practices remaining and we have surpassed the 60,000 fan mark shattering the numbers from 2014 where we just had a little over 49,000 fans come out to support this team. Maybe even more impressive was Fan Fest where 55,060 fans came out to see the Panthers practice at Bank of America Stadium; I was there and I felt like it was a playoff atmosphere. Here is a jaw dropping stat that just hammers home the love this fan base has for this team. Our fan Fest attendance was better than the Vikings and Raiders average attendance last year when I read that I had to do a double take. It’s amazing how far this franchise has come in just 21 years of existence.
It doesn’t hurt that the front office has been proactive in keeping the core team together and adding low-cost high reward veterans to address the weaknesses from previous years! Everyone in the Panthers organization and especially the fans are feeling the momentum of back-to-back division titles and a playoff win. Feeling we have all the pieces to make a strong run at the Lombardi trophy. This fan base is one of the best in the league and I have no doubt will lead this Panther team to a third straight division title and a long playoff run. I am so happy to be part of Panther nation ever since I could remember watching this team mature into a consistent winner. GO PANTHERS KEEP POUNDING!!!!!!!!!