Venue News: Carolina Panthers Unveil Renovation Plans; SMU To Upgrade Football Stadium

Compiled by Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, Sports Video Group

When the Carolina Panthers welcomed the Atlanta Falcons for their first regular season home game in Charlotte on Sept. 1, 1996, fans streamed into a gleaming stadium that combined a classic football feel with state-of-the-art technology. While Bank of America Stadium has held up beautifully over the years, Owner/Founder Jerry Richardson and the Panthers are now working to capture the feel of that historic day with a major renovation that could begin in less than a year. The proposed plan calls for the city to contribute $125 million for renovations in conjunction with a $62.5 million commitment from the Panthers. The sides also would contribute another $52.5 million to their partnership, bringing the city’s pledge to $143.75 million and the Panthers’ pledge to $96.25 million. The Panthers plan to replace the video boards, which were last updated in 2006, with much larger video boards while also improving the picture quality.

The stadium currently features ribbon boards that run from end zone to end zone on each side of the field as well as small boards in two corners. The new ribbon boards would cover more than three times as much space. In addition, the team will improve the wireless experience for fans on game day with increased bandwidth…

…SMU has announced plans for seven new suites and other upgrades to Gerald J. Ford Stadium in time for fall football and the Dallas school’s move to the Big East. School officials on Wednesday announced the improvements will also include a new 233-seat Hall of Champions Club. No cost estimate was immediately provided for the upgrades that follow nearly $3 million in stadium improvements made for the 2011 season…

…Because Lakeland values the Tigers and the $45 million in added revenue Detroit’s big-league baseball team brings to Florida each year, the Tigers’ spring training home and minor-league headquarters is about to get a massive makeover that could approach $50 million by the time it is completed in 2016. Joker Marchant Stadium will undergo a 360-degree expansion of its seating areas, including preservation of the 16-foot grass berm that has become a beach-blanket fixture at Grapefruit League games. Seats will be extended along base lines and will wrap around the outfield perimeter, all connected by way of a free-flowing walkway. The concourse area and its concession and restrooms will be expanded and integrated to allow fans a continuous game experience even when they leave their seats. A reconstructed press box with 10 extra workstations and an additional radio booth is planned…

…The Miami Dolphins have agreed to seek voter approval of tax dollars for Sun Life Stadium, with team executives dropping their objections to a referendum on the controversial plan, sources close to the matter said Saturday. The Dolphins hope to get the issue before voters by May 22, when the NFL is expected to pick the host city for the 2016 Super Bowl, the 50th. The Dolphins have cited the bid to host that game as the reason to push for a quick decision on tax dollars to pay for about half of a proposed $400 million renovation.