Panthers' Greg Olsen: Playing is 'bigger than the game'
After nearly a week of unrest in Charlotte following a fatal shooting by police, the Carolina Panthers say they’re looking forward to some normalcy as they face the Minnesota Vikings Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.
The scene in uptown Charlotte, however, won’t make for the typical game day for Panthers fans.
True Healing Under God, the Charlotte civil rights group, said at a news conference Friday they will have about 100 people protesting Sunday morning near Bank of America Stadium to “Keep Pounding” on justice.
Officials say there will be an increased law enforcement presence near the stadium. The violent protests that erupted in uptown Wednesday were blocks away from Bank of America Stadium. Demonstrators were protesting Tuesday’s fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer. Protests continued uptown in the days that followed.
That’s in large part why the Vikings-Panthers tickets were the fastest-falling NFL ticket prices last week. Prices were about 35 percent cheaper Thursday on the secondary market than they were two days prior, ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell tweeted Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Panthers and the NFL say they’re ready for the 1 p.m. game to go on as planned. President Danny Morrison said the team has been in contact with government officials, as well as Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and NFL headquarters.
“I think this community needs us. Heck, last year we brought it together,” head coach Ron Rivera said this week. “Who knows? Maybe we can help.”
In a statement Thursday, the league said: “We are monitoring events in Charlotte and have been in communication with local officials and authorities, and both the Carolina Panthers and the Minnesota Vikings.”
A Panthers spokesman pointed to security initiatives the team added this year at the stadium, including the 95 new walk-through body scanners at each entrance that take the place of hand wands, enhanced camera coverage and explosives-detecting canine teams patrolling the stadium’s exterior.
“Our new security protocol is more efficient, less intrusive, and better at distinguishing items that are prohibited from the stadium,” spokesman Steven Drummond said.
As far as added security is concerned, police are saying they’ll be ready.
In a press conference Friday morning, Charlotte Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney said the department will have “adequate resources” to keep the city safe during Sunday’s game.
And the Roaring Riot, the Panthers’ fan club, has said it’s monitoring events in Charlotte, but will plan to host its usual tailgate Sunday on the train tracks near Cedar Street, barring any major disruption in the game’s scheduling.