Fireworks explode over Bank of America Stadium during the 2014 Fan Fest. (Photo by Rogelio Aranda/Charlotte Observer))
Everyone loves fireworks, right? Which means that in my opinion the Carolina Panthers have upgraded their annual Fan Fest again this year compared to most years in the past. It's still free, but now it will include a fireworks and laser show at the end.
Fan Fest is always one of the best bargains around for Panthers fans, especially those around Charlotte, who generally have to drive to Spartanburg to go to training camp to see the team work out for free. This year Fan Fest will be held on Friday night, Aug. 7, at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium. Fans will also receive a 2015 team roster photo card with a 2015 schedule. The team stopped doing controlled "full tackle" scrimmages in this event a long time ago -- too much potential for injury -- but seeing Cam Newton flying around like an airplane (below) followed by fireworks and lasers isn't a bad way to spend a free Friday night. Having it on Friday, to me, seems a far better idea than the old Saturday afternoon Fan Fests that were generally an endurance contest due to the heat.
Stadium gates open at 6:30 p.m. with on-field performances by the TopCats, Sir Purr, PurrCussion and the Black & Blue Crew. The Fan Fest Sponsor Village, located at the North Gate, will include tents with interactive games, giveaways, music and inflatables. (And if you have kids, you need to show up early for that).
The Panthers will take the field at 7:30 p.m. for a practice that will last a little less than two hours. The fireworks and laser show will begin at 9:30 p.m.
Strollers and video cameras will be permitted inside the stadium for Fan Fest only.
Transparent, plastic, vinyl or PVC bags smaller than 12" x 6" x 12" will be allowed after inspection. All other stadium policies remain in effect. Stadium policies can be viewed here. If you are hungry for real football, the Panthers open the regular season Sept. 13 at Jacksonville.