The 97-degree heat isn’t slowing fans from starting to stream into uptown Charlotte Friday afternoon for the Carolina Panthers’ first home exhibition game. This is is the third year in a row the Panthers are playing the New England Patriots in the third preseason game.
The sold-out exhibition game is likely the last time fans will see quarterback Cam Newton at home until the Panthers play the San Francisco 49ers Sept. 18 – coach Ron Rivera usually plays his starters into the third quarter before sitting most of them out for the final preseason game, which is in Charlotte next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Along with going through metal detectors before the game and paying higher prices on soda on the 500-level, fans will notice a number of other changes at the home stadium – the wireless system, for example, was just upgraded, which the team says will make it one of the “best-connected stadiums in the NFL.”
Fans will also be greeted with a few familiar faces for a few pre-game traditions.
Teresa Guidry, a Rock Hill native who was a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice” earlier this year, will sing the National Anthem before the Panthers take the field.
Chris Draft, a former linebacker who played for the Panthers for two seasons starting in 2005, will bang the pre-game “Keep Pounding” drum.
And for transportation to and from the game, Uber is offering first-time users $20 off if they use the code ONECAROLINA16. Fans are encouraged to request ride shares only when they’re out of the stadium. A few good pickup spots include West Morehead Street, South Church Street or South Cedar Street.