CHARLOTTE (Friday, Feb. 5, 2016) – As the Carolina Panthers prepare for their second chance at Super Bowl glory on Feb. 7, 2016, the team’s hometown is proving to be its biggest fan. Leading up to Super Bowl 50’s 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff, the Queen City and the greater Charlotte area have Panthers fever, sharing a united front: one Panther Nation.
Locals are living in Panthers jerseys, T-shirts and hats to showcase team spirit, but beyond the fans and their unspoken dress code, the city itself is making its pick for Super Bowl 50’s champion known. Here are the top ways the Charlotte area is proclaiming Panthers pride loud and clear:
The Infamous Cranes: The construction site cranes that flank buildings in design throughout Uptown have been repurposed. Sponsored by Bank of America, they’re now holsters for giant banners bearing the Panthers mantra “Keep Pounding.” The seven banners are visible—and unmissable—at the new EpiCentre hotel, 300 S. Tryon Street, Skyhouse II Apartments (at Ninth and Church streets), 615 S. College Street, Mint Museum Apartments (at Levine Avenue of the Arts and Church Street), and the Ascent building (at Third and Poplar streets).
Not-so-Subliminal Messaging: Everything from the city’s public and privately owned venues to its transportation entities have been adorned with pro-Panthers messaging, lighting and decor. It’s hard to miss the giant “Go Panthers” text tattooed in white paint on the roof of The Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte building in Center City, the flashing “Go Panthers!” messages that run across the screens on CATS buses and the LYNX Blue Line light rail cars all over, or the mammoth inflatable of a Panthers player bolstered to the side of Tyber Creek Premium Pub in South End. But Panther Nation extends well beyond city limits. Just north of Charlotte, in Concord, the office administrator at Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church, now dubbed the “sign lady,” garnered national attention when she added the message, “God has no favorites, but the sign lady does…Go Panthers!” to the church’s front lawn sign.
Spirited Menus: Charlotte’s Super Bowl culinary scene isn’t limited to nachos, chicken wings and draft beers. Instead, the city’s restaurants, bars and bakeries are touting creative menu items that tip their hats to the Panthers. Craving a burger or a dog? Try the massive Wham! Bam! Thank you Cam! burger at Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar or the Keep Hounding hotdog at JJ’s Red Hots. Looking for a craft beer or cocktail? Order the #KeepPounding cocktail, filled with vodka, mint, blueberry and blackberry flavors, at Kanvas Gallery, or sip on a Cardiac Cats Cranberry Cream Ale at NoDa Brewing Company. Need something sweet? Pick up a Panthers-themed macaron (Panther Mac), complete with silver claw mark décor, at Amelie’s French Bakery or The Pounder Shake milkshake, a play on the Birthday Cake shake ordered regularly by Panthers safety Kurt Coleman, at Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar.
Public Celebrations: A Panthers Pride pep rally at Romare Bearden Park in Uptown last Friday has kicked off a host of spirited Charlotte events that are keeping the “Keep Pounding” momentum alive. That rally which was attended by thousands of fans, including Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and N.C. Governor Pat McCrory, plus Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera a handful of Panthers players, like Josh Norman and Thomas Davis. This morning, beginning at 11:30 at Disk Plaza, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Animal Care and Control’s Pup Rally will celebrate the Panthers and bring attention to the organization’s animal care mission. Five puppies donning Panthers’ jerseys and bearing the names of Panthers players will prance around hoping to be adopted by fans.
The Mayoral Wager: Mayor of Charlotte Jennifer Roberts, who declared January Panthers Pride month, and Mayor of Denver Michael B. Hancock are wagering football jerseys from their respective teams. If the Panthers take the victory, Mayor Hancock will post a picture of himself on his Twitter account, @MayorHancock, sporting a #1 Cam Newton jersey. Should the Broncos win, Mayor Roberts will model a #18 Peyton Manning jersey and post a picture of herself on her Twitter account, @CLTMayor.
Non-stop News Coverage: Local and national news outlets have inundated air time with stories about Charlotte and Denver, the two Super Bowl teams’ hometowns. Coverage has the two cities in fierce competition to not only win the Super Bowl 50 title but also the best city, or “Super City,” title. If hometown pride factors into the win, the Panthers are well-prepared. View the Charlotte vs. Denver city showdown on “CBS News This Morning” or see how this year's team embodies the can-do spirit of the Charlotte region.
(This is a seven-part series leading up to Super Bowl 50 brought to you collaboratively by the City of Charlotte, Charlotte Center City Partners, the Charlotte Chamber, the Charlotte Regional Partnership and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. This series features facts and information about the Carolina Panthers’ hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.)
High resolution photos are available for download here.