Carolina Panthers

Before the Panthers’ Monday night kickoff, here’s what you need to know

dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Expect lights, cameras and tons of traffic when the Carolina Panthers face the Indianapolis Colts in the “Monday Night Football” broadcast that’s expected to put Charlotte – the skyline, especially – on the national stage.

The hype around the Panthers’ unprecedented 6-0 streak has some officials ready to dazzle fans and visitors with fireworks, talented singers, freebies and pretty lights … lots and lots of pretty lights.

And lest you think the skyline’s a bit overplayed, consider this comment from Panthers President Danny Morrison:

“What these prime-time games present is an opportunity to showcase Charlotte, the region, the Carolinas and especially our beautiful skyline. They always show pictures of uptown.”

Before you get caught up in all the glitz, here are some basics you should know for game day:

Traffic won’t be pretty

Heavy traffic will start pouring into Charlotte around mid-afternoon Monday, city officials said.

That means streets will be closed, on-street parking will be limited and commuters should plan ahead if they hope to leave work before the 8:30 p.m. kickoff.

Prepare for traffic jams. The Bank of America Stadium seats over 75,000 spectators, and Morrison is confident the game will be the team’s 131st straight sellout.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police and the Charlotte Department of Transportation will direct and monitor traffic during the game. Riding CATS transit is encouraged.

... and the weather may not be pretty, either

The Charlotte region is getting a good soaking of rain Monday, and showers are expected to continue through gametime.

The National Weather Service says heavy rain and possibly even a thunderstorm are in the forecast before 11 p.m., with more rain overnight.

That means fans shouldn’t forget their raincoats or ponchos before heaving to the game. But leave your umbrella at home. They’re not allowed inside of Bank of America Stadium.

That sparkling skyline

If you watch the game from home (or the nearest bar), you’ll likely see various shots of Charlotte’s skyline. At the center will stand the Duke Energy Center, radiant in Panthers blue.

Sure, it looks good, but there are logistics involved.

For instance, those shots on television won’t be live. ESPN, the Panthers and Wells Fargo, which owns the skyscraper, coordinated so crews could take nighttime shots of the building bathed in blue over the weekend, Wells Fargo spokesman Josh Dunn said.

Monday night, an employee will control the lights from a laptop while in a stadium press box, he said.

The building will glow in red, white and blue during the National Anthem. Each time the Panthers score a touchdown, the building will light up blue. And when the game ends, the top of the building will shine a blue “V” for victory – if the team wins, of course. If they lose, the building will just stay lit in blue.

Goodies inside the stadium

The Panthers won’t just rely on the Duke building colors to pump up fans. They have plenty planned inside the stadium:

▪ Each fan will get a black “Keep Pounding” banner flag as they enter the stadium.

▪ You’ll see more fireworks – don’t expect a huge show of it, but “we’re doing more than we would normally do,” Morrison said.

▪ Before the game starts, Nashville-based southern rock band Down Home will play live on the field.

▪ Grammy-nominated songstress Jordin Sparks, who won the sixth season of “American Idol,” will sing the National Anthem and perform at halftime.

▪ U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter will lead the “Keep Pounding” ceremony. In 2010, Carpenter was seriously injured in Afghanistan when he dove atop a live grenade to shield a fellow soldier. He retired from the military in 2013, and received the Medal of Honor last year.

A lot of exposure

This isn’t Charlotte’s first time on “Monday Night Football” (the Panthers’ last home game on the broadcast was in 2013).

But, with a team that’s undefeated and the latest win (27-16 against the Eagles last Sunday), some feel that Monday will be “extra special,” said Charlotte Chamber President Bob Morgan.

 ‘Monday Night Football is one of the iconic brands of television, and it brings a national audience,” Morgan said.

And that’s good for business. When the Panthers hosted Monday Night Football in November 2013, hotel occupancy was more than 96 percent, compared with about 80 percent for the other Mondays that month, according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

“To see those beautiful images in the television coverage may very well (convince) someone to put Charlotte on the list if they’re considering a move or a business investment,” Morgan said.

Staff writer Joe Marusak contributed.

Jonathan McFadden: 704-358-6045, @JmcfaddenObsGov

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