After driving north for just over an hour, you’ll find yourself in the beloved Queen City. Home to the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets and five other professional teams, Charlotte is a sports lover's paradise.
Having a strong professional sports culture is an important part of the city of Charlotte. Giving both residents and visitors a fantastic experience, no matter what game they attend, is something the city prides itself in, according to Moira Quinn, the senior vice president of communications for the Charlotte Center City Partners.
“There’s a huge sports culture around every type of sport,” Quinn said.
Sports fans might associate the city of Charlotte with the Carolina Panthers, the city's NFL team. The Panthers' home turf has been the Bank of America Stadium, located in Uptown Charlotte, since 1993. If you find yourself at a Panthers game, you’ll see some familiar faces and be able to cheer on both Shi Smith and Jaycee Horn, two former Gamecocks.
“It was a really good atmosphere,” Robbie Franklin, second-year sport and entertainment management student, said about his recent trip to watch the Panthers play the Baltimore Ravens.
If you aren’t at Bank of America Stadium, then you will probably find yourself in The Hive with 20,000 of your new closest friends.
The Hive, more formally known as Spectrum Center, is located only a few blocks away from Bank of America Stadium and is home to Charlotte’s NBA team, the Hornets.
The team, which is owned by basketball legend Michael Jordan, is known for not only putting on a good game of basketball, but creating a show for its fans. Halftime, timeouts and any break in the game is filled with action.
"The Hornets put on such a great show," Quinn said.
Aside from these two powerhouse teams, Charlotte is also known for its minor league baseball, as the city is home to the Triple-A Chicago White Sox affiliate, the Charlotte Knights.
“There’s a rich history of baseball in Charlotte, North Carolina,” Tommy Viola, the vice president of communications for the Charlotte Knights, said.
Baseball in Charlotte dates all the way back to 1892. Though the Knights have been around since 1988, their current ballpark, Truist Field, opened in 2014. It has since then been named “The Best Ball Park in Minor League Baseball'' by Baseball America, and has been one of the most visited ballparks in all minor league baseball, according to Viola.
“It was probably one of the nicest minor league stadiums that I’ve been to,” Max Levine, second-year sport and entertainment management student, said.
The Knights' game day experience always offers a fun environment to its fans. Whether it is Thirsty Thursday, Friday Fireworks, Bark in the Park — where fans can bring their dogs to a game — or Sunday Family Days, the organization strives to keep fans engaged and excited.
Fans can get tickets to Knights games for as little as $11, making it affordable for everyone. Thanks to its design, no matter where a fan is in the stadium, they can all feel like they are part of the action, according to Viola.
“To me, there’s not a bad seat in the house,” Viola said.
Charlotte has other sports teams for fans, as well.
The city is home to the Checkers, a minor league hockey team, and two professional soccer teams. The city’s newest addition, Charlotte FC, is the city’s major league soccer team and is expected to begin its inaugural season in 2022.
The Charlotte Independence is the city’s other soccer organization, which currently plays in the United Soccer League. You can find the Independence at the American Legion Memorial Stadium, which is also located in Uptown Charlotte, just blocks from the Knights', Hornets' and Panthers' home fields.
The city is home to countless sports bars; many are dedicated to specific college or professional teams. It is also home to the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, for a different aspect of the sports world experience. The city’s many parks and easy modes of public transportation all help to create the perfect game day experience, especially for visitors to the city.
"It's the game day, it's walking, it's being in Uptown," Quinn said. "It's, you know, the whole experience. The whole package."