Panther Tracks

Carolina Panthers fans trickle into California for Super Bowl 50

Fans snap photos at Super Bowl City in San Francisco
Fans snap photos at Super Bowl City in San Francisco The Charlotte Observer

It’s getting easier to spot Carolina Panthers fans in downtown San Francisco as more arrive in the city before Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup against the Denver Broncos.

They still appear largely outnumbered by fans wearing other teams’ jerseys, including lots of 49ers. Fans meandered around Super Bowl City in San Francisco’s financial district Friday afternoon, partaking in NFL-sponsored family-fun activities, drinking beer and snapping photos.

Here’s what some Panthers fans in San Francisco are up to.

▪ Don and Brenda Fowler live near Asheville and have been permanent seat license owners at Bank of America Stadium since the Panthers started in 1995. The Fowlers are making a long weekend out of the game – they arrived Thursday and are staying until Tuesday. They rented a house about two miles from Levi’s Stadium and have club-level seats to the game. “It’s really great to be here. The win is the cherry on top. Just the fact the fact that they got here – Charlotte’s getting the recognition and the team’s getting the recognition we think they deserve,” Don said.

▪ John Shipley grew up in Matthews and lives in Denver now. He bought PSLs this year and flies back to Charlotte for every home game. Back in July, he put down $100 that the Panthers would win the Super Bowl and will win $4,500 if they do. He’ll fly to Las Vegas on Monday after the game to collect his winnings if the Panthers win. “It seems like everyone is re-fueled because of what the team has done this year. Nobody saw it coming. It kinda came out of nowhere.” John said. He’ll attend the game with his mother, Patty, who lives in Wadesboro.

▪ Ryan Verney is from Anchorage, Alaska, but a longtime Panthers fan because he has family in Wilmington and lived there for a few years. He says it’s tough watching games in Alaska because of the time difference (those 1 p.m. games start at 9 a.m. local time, for example.) He’s going to the Super Bowl with two of his friends from Alaska who are Broncos fans.

▪ Frankie Griffin is from Fayetteville but has lived in Sacramento for 15 years. His wife and two young children were decked out head-to-toe in Panthers gear, too. Through a local Roaring Riot fan group that formed called the Cali Cat Pack, Griffin’s met lots of other Carolina fans and transplants. “I go to games anytime they play on the West Coast,” says Griffin, although he won’t be going to Sunday’s game.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta