The Carolinas’ dream of having its own NFL franchise became a reality in 1993 and what a ride it has been!
Staff writer Liz Clarke reported the big news on October 27, 1993. Here’s an excerpt:
“CHICAGO - Charlotte finally got its National Football League expansion team Tuesday, defying skeptics who said North Carolina was only basketball country, and cynics who said owner Jerry Richardson didn't have the money, anyway.
“NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced the Carolina bid was approved unanimously by the league's 28 owners. The league chose to table selection of a second expansion team until a meeting Nov. 30.
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“‘This is a dream come true for us,’ Richardson said at the announcement. ‘Especially a dream come true for the 10 million who have been with us the whole way.’
“Richardson was referring to the 10 million people who live within a 150-mile radius of Charlotte, a key factor in the Richardsons' marketing pitch to the NFL.
“Tagliabue confirmed Richardson's impression, saying ‘the major factors for us were market and fan support.’
“That fan support was represented by the 40,000-plus permanent seat licenses sold to fans wanting Carolina Panthers season tickets, and the 4-1/2 seasons of sellouts the NBA Charlotte Hornets have enjoyed.
“Richardson promised, ‘When I get back, I'll say thank you, thank you, thank you,’ to the fans for making his dream come true.
“The Panthers, whose black-silver and electric blue logo was unveiled at the scene, will open play in fall 1995. The team will play their first season at Clemson University. The 72,302-seat stadium in uptown Charlotte will be ready for play in the 1996 season.”