Charlotte sports fans might need a few things to get them through the next few days: energy drinks, rain gear and a good excuse to call out sick from work Tuesday morning.
The rebuilt Charlotte Hornets have planned an afternoon of activities in advance of Sunday’s 2 p.m. home opener. And about 28 hours after that game ends, the undefeated Carolina Panthers will play on “Monday Night Football” – a nationally televised and possibly rain-soaked game at Bank of America Stadium.
Longtime fans say the buzz is palpable. The Panthers are undefeated and, to many fans, underrated, and this is a chance to show the nation that the team is a Super Bowl contender. The Hornets boast a re-built lineup with more scoring punch that fans hope will return them to the playoffs.
“I've been through 1-15 and I’ve been through 2-14 (seasons),” said Andrew Mackay, who lives in SouthPark and has been a Panthers season ticket holder since their first season. “These teams have less talent (than previous ones), but they play together. I like the direction of both franchises and I think it’s fun to watch.”
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Mackay said his family tries to make every home opener for the Hornets and also attends games throughout the season.
“We're not painting our faces or pounding drinks or doing those loud tailgates, but we’re always there,” he said. “The main thing is the town has confidence in these teams.”
Michael Jones is hoping to celebrate his 25th birthday with a Panthers win.
A few weeks ago, the Charlotte native who now lives and works in Durham, realized the Hornets’ home opener is a day before the Panthers’ Monday night game, which happens to be on his birthday.
Since then, there has been no doubt how he’s spending this weekend. Now, he said, the tickets offer him a chance to be a part of something special.
“The Hornets are doing a lot of good things when it comes to bringing in old Hornets fans that were disconnected when they left,” Jones said. “For the Panthers, winning always fixes everything. I think because (the 6-0 start) came out of left field, people started to really wake up on this team.”
Russell Miller, an urban planning major at UNC Charlotte who said he has been a Hornets season ticket holder for three years, is planning to go to three games in three days. He’ll start Saturday at UNCC’s football game against Marshall.
Monday night’s Panthers game will be his fourth live sporting event in nine days.
“I went to the (Panthers’) Sunday night game also,” he said. “That was the most rocking I've seen in a while. But on Monday, we need to show out.”
The Charlotte Hornets home opener will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at Time Warner Cable Arena
On Monday, the Panthers will take on the Indianapolis Colts at 8:30 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium