Here's a tough Panther trivia question for you: What was Carolina's most-attended home game ever?? Here's a hint: It's a record that may never be broken.
If you guessed one of the two Dallas home playoff games in Charlotte, or the Monday Night game against Tampa Bay this year, or the MNF season opener against Green Bay in 2004, all those are close, but no cigar.
The record-holder came in 1995, when the Panthers played their first season in Clemson in a slightly bigger stadium. They generally averaged only about 55,000 that strange inaugural season at Death Valley, but on Dec.10, 1995, Carolina had 76,136 for a home game against San Francisco, which was the NFL's glamour team at the time.
Bank of America Stadium could never get more than a 74,200 turnstile count, and that would be with every star aligning perfectly and not a single no-show, Phil Youtsey, the Panthers' director of ticketing, told me this week. "And we always seem to get 1,000 no-shows no matter what," Youtsey said. "It's beyond me why people buy a ticket and it doesn't get used, but it happens."
But Saturday night's home playoff game against Arizona may break into the all-time top 4 in turnstile count for a Panthers game (not tickets distributed, but actual people who show up). Here's the current top 4:
1) San Francisco (at Clemson), 1995: 76,136
2) Dallas (home playoff game), 1996 season: 72,808
3) Washington, 1997 (season opener): 72,633
4) Green Bay, 2004 (season opener, MNF): 72,331
Incidentally, Carolina lost all of those games except No.2.
The highest turnstile count in 2008? Not surprisingly, it was the MNF game against Tampa Bay last month at 71,666.
If the weather is dry Saturday night, the Panthers will probably get in the 71-73,000 range for actual turnstile count. But if it's wet (and that's a possibility), it'll be more like 67,000-70,000, I would imagine. In any case, it will be quite a homefield advantage at the stadium where Carolina has gone 8-0 at home this season, what with all the white Growl Towels waving and the 8:15 p.m. start.
As Jake Delhomme says: "Night games are just a little bit different -- a little more electric."