The Carolina Panthers remain on track to complete the five-year renovation plan at Bank of America Stadium the team kicked off two years ago, a team executive said Wednesday.
The next phase of the project, scheduled to start at the end of the Panthers’ season next year, consists of upper-level concourse renovation and wireless Internet upgrades.
Panthers president Danny Morrison said there had been internal discussions about doing renovations on the 100- and 500-level concourses in 2016, but ultimately WiFi was prioritized instead because the wireless speed upgrade “affects 74,000 fans.”
“Anytime you’re working on a five-year renovation process, things are fluid,” Morrison told the Observer. “With the outstanding feedback we’ve had from our (upgraded) cellular service, to then come right back with a new WiFi service, we believe that we will be one of the best stadiums in the NFL.”
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The Panthers upgraded their “distributed antenna system” this past summer to improve cellular capacity and bring faster data speeds during games. Customers had long complained about the need for quick and reliable phone service throughout the stadium.
Earlier in the year, the stadium also renovated its 153 club-level suites, adding, among other amenities, retractable windows, more high-definition TVs and a middle aisle to ease movement.
Before that, the first phase of the project included adding two new video and ribbon boards, an enhanced sound system, new exterior lighting and escalators.
The next phase of WiFi and upper-level concourse improvements should take about six months after they begin during the off-season, Morrison said.
“Then we will look again at what we will do in 2017 and 2018,” he said, adding that all planned renovations are still slated to be completed within the five-year window.
Improvements to the 100- and 500-level concourses will reduce the wait times for fans in line to buy concessions and will improve interior lighting to make the concourses more aesthetically pleasing, the Panthers have said.
The stadium renovations are part of a public-private financing agreement the Panthers agreed to with the city of Charlotte in 2013. That year, the Charlotte City Council voted to give the Panthers $87.5 million, $75 million of which would be spent on stadium renovations. In return, the team agreed to remain in Charlotte for at least six years, with penalties if it moves in the four years after that.
The Panthers have spent $71 million on the project so far, including $37 million on the first phase and $34 million on the second phase earlier this year. Taxpayers will pay $23.5 million in both 2016 and 2018 for more work on the stadium.