Thursday, November 5, 2009

Should Panthers have hosted Butler-Independence?

In my column today on the Butler-Independence showdown Friday night, I briefly raised an issue that deserves more explanation.

Because 24,000-seat Memorial Stadium is closed for repairs (and believe me, that place needs it), this game will be played in the 4,250-seat stadium at Independence. It is already sold out -- I'd advise you not to show up without a ticket.

Obviously, this game could draw far more than 4,250. Probably 15,000-25,000, depending on the venue.

There was a campaign to get the game moved to the Panthers' stadium, but the Panthers said they wouldn't host the game.

Why? Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton told The Observer recently: "There are several considerations that prevent Bank of America Stadium from being the site of the Butler-Independence game, including fairness to other area schools. There is also the consideration of field damage if we were to have three days of (bad) weather as we (experienced a couple of weeks ago)."

Butler coach Mike Newsome -- who I really like and respect -- was vocal in my interview with him about his displeasure that the Panthers wouldn't host the game.

“With the season they’re having right now,” Newsome said of the Panthers, “I think it would have been a big community gesture for them to allow this to happen…. What if Clemson would have said years ago, ‘No Panthers, we don’t really want you tearing up our field?’ What if every other college had said that, too?”

The Panthers played their home games in 1995 at Clemson while their privately-owned stadium was being built.

Newsome also said about the issue -- and I didn't have room for this in the column: "It really bothers me as a community that we couldn’t have come together and allowed that to happen. When you look at how many other NFL stadiums allow high school and college teams play at their place…"

Then the coach cited as examples the University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Steelers sharing Heinz Field and sometimes playing on the same weekend. The same thing happens in Tampa, with the University of South Florida and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sharing Raymond James Stadium. Other NFL stadiums occasionally have been used for high-school state title games and the like.

Those stadiums are generally public venues, however -- the Panthers' stadium is primarily owned by the Richardson family. The Panthers have traditionally not let the grass be used for much of anything except Panthers' games, which means the stadium seats are vacant close to 350 days a year (and the field is routinely ranked very high in NFL Players' Association of best fields in the league).

Long ago, the stadium hosted a highly successful Billy Graham crusade and the Rolling Stones. It still has an annual college football bowl game right after Christmas and a smattering of other college football games (including the ACC football championship in Dec. 2010) on the horizon.

But I would agree with Newsome to a point -- the stadium is under-utilized. The grass certainly isn't going to tear up with a few more events per year, and it'd be nice to see a couple of high school games played there every season.

Then again, you can see the Panthers' point. Let's say Friday night's game is played there and Butler wins. That means Butler would be the higher playoff seed. In 3-4 weeks, the two teams could very well meet again -- this time in Butler's 2,500-seat stadium! Do the Panthers have to host that one, too?

It's a slippery slope -- there are dozens of very good high school football teams around here. All would clamor loudly for a chance to get into the stadium if the door was ever opened.

With all that said, though, I really wish the Panthers would have made an exception for this particular game.

The weather is going to be beautiful Friday night. The field would not have torn up. And about 20,000 more people could have seen live what could well be the best high school football game of 2009 in the state of North Carolina.

Follow Scott on Twitter.com/scott_fowler

35 comments:

Ed said...

High school games the big stadium would really be something else. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

If the Panthers said no to the Charlotte 49ers when they approached them about using the stadium in the future, why would they say yes to the high schools? Remember PSLs paid for that stadium, not taxpayer dollars.

Anonymous said...

Do not blame the Panthers. Put the blame on the elected officials who have spent billions building every shiny new toy they could think of, but let Memorial Stadium crumble to the point of being unsafe. Yet the same people keep getting elected.

Anonymous said...

Hey Scott, it's a HIGH SCHOOL game.
They got a stadium.
You don't like it, talk to the school board.
I believe YOU get a free pass either way?
As for poor Memorial Stadium, you are right... that place needed an overhaul 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

“With the season they’re having right now,” Newsome said of the Panthers, “I think it would have been a big community gesture for them to allow this to happen…. What if Clemson would have said years ago, ‘No Panthers, we don’t really want you tearing up our field?’ What if every other college had said that, too?”

Wouldn't have happened. Panthers were stroking big checks and someone would have been happy to take care of them.

Anonymous said...

Turn Memorial Stadium into a class venue for high School games, get the Shrine Bowl back and have the occasional college games there too.
IE Wingate, JC Smith, Catawba, and others. That place could be a money-maker that could pay for itself.

Benjamin said...

While I am all for the Panthers improving their local cred, they have zero motivation to do so. They are part of the most successful sports business model in the US. They have an absolute LOCK on the Charlotte-area professional sports market. Further, there is no financial incentive for the Panthers. They would look quite miserly to request some pittance from the high schools' ticket sales. This is especially important given the example used by the coach of Butler, drawing an analogy between Clemson and other schools opening their doors to the Panthers. This relationship was enormously beneficial to Clemson Athletics. Panthers ticket revenues, of which I'm sure they took some percentage, were millions in revenue for that athletic department. That was a business decision to allow the Panthers use of Death Valley, not an act of charity. I am sure the same could be said of the examples Scott gave, such as Heinz Field, where Pitt's ticket revenues boost the stadium's bottom-line (a partially publicly funded stadium at that). The Panthers perform many acts of charity in the Carolinas without any cost to their personnel or property. Allowing the use of their stadium to high school games expose them to unnecessary expense without getting a whole lot in return.

Anonymous said...

Panthers got it wrong. Plain and simple. Heinz Field is used for the WPIAL Championship games every year. And no one seems to complain about it in Pittsburgh. Another reason why Western PA football dominates the Carolinas.

Anonymous said...

The Panthers suck and props to Scott for raising this point. There have been a number of not very well publicized incidents where the Panthers have either directly or indirectly prevented events from happening at the stadium that would have been a huge boon to Uptown and the Charlotte region more generally. The Panthers have done a good job of using their weight to keep this all hushed up but they are really a poor corporate citizen of this community. At the end of the day, they could do a lot more to make Charlotte a better place, but they choose not too. Fair enough that it doesn't make them money, but they should keep in mind that the community does make them who they are and act more accordingly.

Anonymous said...

The Panthers don't owe the high schools anything. Does anyone remember the criticism the Steelers received a couple of years ago for letting the high schools and Pitt use their field? As best as I can recall, they had to play a regular season or playoff games on a field that was almost unplayable.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
If the Panthers said no to the Charlotte 49ers "


Why the hell are they?

Are you referring to the UNCC 49ers or UNC Charlotte 49ers? Or perhaps the longer University of North Carolina 49ers or Forty-niners?

There are no Charlotte 49ers. Never has been and never will be. Case closed.

Anonymous said...

ummmm. they prob don't want any gang fights in BofA stadium.

panthers are smart, they can do what they want with their stadium.

Anonymous said...

Is there anything that people from Matthews and Mint Hill won't whine about?

Did you call UNC-C and bother them? They have a 4,000 seat stadium on their campus.

Don't blame the Panthers that your stadium is barely big enough to seat your own student body.

Anonymous said...

then why does it Charlotte on some of the teams jerseys?

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:49

www.charlotte49ers.com


Nice job moron.

jrguy said...

If the Panthers allowed them to use their stadium, who pays for concessions, ushers, security, and everything else it takes to run the stadium? No one has said anything about this. It would all add up to a sizeable (albeit cheaper than an NFL game) expense for the Panthers. And if they can't ask for money to run the game for fear of looking bad, what's the point? Besides, Like Scott says, what if they meet again in the playoffs? Then they'd be obligated to do it all over again.

Anonymous said...

Piss on all of them.

Anonymous said...

I'm a PSL owner and I'm very disappointed in the Panthers on this issue. It's just lazy and stupid. They just need to get over themselves. Missed a great opportunity to do the right thing in the right circumstance.

Anonymous said...

Host the game. The New England Patriots have a fully privately finaced stadium and I do believe they are one of the top value teams in the league. Granted Pittsburgh's field is terrible and needs to be switched to the new turf that the Patriots chose but how many Steelers and P{atriots fans are sitting in their seats as adults looking down on the field they once got a chance to play on.

For an "every other" organization like the Panthers they need as much continuous good feeling in the community. That way maybe when it is their year to be terrible the stadium won't be filled with visitor's fans.

By the way every other means every other year they are good...sucking in the fans. As for professional sports teams in Charlotte...I can't wait until one shows up.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Panthers should have hosted Butler-Independence.Its always about the money. Thats the problem with this country.

Anonymous said...

since the two teams are pro teams (pay for play) they should get to play in panthers stadium.

Yeah I said it !!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

it would also be nice to see some good coaching occuring on both sidelines for a change in panther stadium.

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peace and love

Anonymous said...

For the Panthers its not so much bad that they didn't do it. Its more that it would have been really good if they did. Now its a missed opportunity. It would have been a nice gesture and a good PR move for the Panthers to have offered BofA stadium for the game, even if there were nothing more than that in it for them.

As for the money, what is the arrangement for the schools to use Memorial Stadium? Just do the same thing, whatever it is. And as far as opening the floodgates, I don't think so. I would see this accomodating a situation where Memorial is unavailable. Once Memorial is back up and running, then go back there. Its just kind of sad that when Memorial is became unavailable (months ago), they couldn't figure out a way to move this one game literally blocks away to the only other local venue that could accomodate the fans.

atstinger said...

This Butler coach is out of his mind. So Delhomme throws a few extra picks, the Panthers have a losing record and now they OWE the community AT LARGE a gesture of good faith? So if they had a perfect record you wouldn't bother?

His Clemson comparison proves he has zero comprehension of how and why stadiums are shared and when. Let's say the Butler prom had to be moved because the hotel ballroom had to be repaired last minute. I'm sure Ken Lewis has a big home with plenty of on street parking in his neighborhood. He's been losing lately, so he should open up his private home for Butler teenagers.

Anonymous said...

Get over yourselves! High School is no where near important enough to damage an NFL field. What a joke!

Anonymous said...

Heinz Field is the worst playing surface in the league, including the turf stadiums. Give me a break. Keep the kids off the pro field.

Andrew said...

$10 a ticket
25,000 in attendance

$250,000

That seems like enough money to put on a football game.


And yes, they are the Charlotte 49ers.

Anonymous said...

There are many states who host their state finals in their NFL stadium such as Georgia in Atlanta Texas in Dallas and Florida in Miami for starters.

Hosting a local yocal regular season match up between Indy & Butler in the NFL is completely ASININE and whoever thought is this is frivolizing the possibility of future state finals at BOA stadium.
It would be considered favoritism too.

Memorial Stadium is without question the finest venue in NC for high school football regular season games. It will reopen next month.

Why not reschedule the NC state finals at BOA for 2010 beginning today instead ???
Also why not schedule the SC state finals at BOA since they are a week earlier.
Put NCHSAA and SCHSL in touch with Richardson ??

Andrew said...

dont think you get it, Richardson doesn't care if the state title game comes to Charlotte or not.

...and in reality not many people show up for a state title game, at least not as many as a butler/indy matchup.

Anonymous said...

My first thoughts were, Why not use JC Smiths Stadium? My second thought was Why isnt Channel 9 or some other station picking this game up and broadcasting it on WAXN or one of their other local sister stations?
Surely you could sell advertising to cover the costs.

Anonymous said...

Andrew said...
dont think you get it, Richardson doesn't care if the state title game comes to Charlotte or not.

...and in reality not many people show up for a state title game, at least not as many as a butler/indy matchup.


Huh? Sounds like a Butler fan but JR dosent care? RU kidding?

As far as more showing up for a local Butler/Indy game this is even worst. Many state final games fill at least half Kenan or other stadiums but it depends on whos playing since some teams bring more fans than others.

Since BHS always blow the big ones and never been to a state finals game how would they know how many fans are in finals anyway?

Anonymous said...

Lil JCSU stadium? Thats laughable. We're talking real football. Maybe Indy or Butler could schedule JCSU in preseason if the Bulls care to risk a blowout embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

The Panthers paid Clemson $200,000 per game. That's $2 million over the course of a year. Remember that Jerry wanted to play 1995 in Columbia, but they wanted too much money. Why does the coach want the game in the stadium? So they can sell more tickets. He sees his side of the money, but he can't see the other side of the issue.

atstinger said...

And it seems rather self-serving to cry about moving a game that should be played at your opponent's field to what would effectively become a neutral location.

Matt said...

"The Panthers' stadium is primarily owned by the Richardson family." That would be the deciding factor in why BoA Stadium doesn't host HS football games. I can understand the point of the Panthers not wanting to be deluged with phone calls from area high schools wanting to play a big game each weekend there. It would purely be a PR move by Richardson and the Panthers, they wouldn't see much financial benefit from it as they do with the bowl game. On the other hand, I think it would be a sensational idea to host a "football invitational weekend" of sorts at BoA. This has been done in other cities with NFL stadiums. I don't know how it might be done around the Panthers schedule and also with concerns about preserving the turf (maybe at the beginning of the season, then plan to install new turf afterward), but the experts could figure something out if they were willing to do so.