One of the things that Florio Jr. and I enjoy about driving down I-77 through Charlotte is that the path provides a great look at Bank of America Stadium, where the Panthers play their home games. The stadium, which still looks and feels new, opened in 1996.
And the Panthers already are talking openly about possibly building a new one.
“You would have to think we’re in the middle of a normal NFL stadium
cycle,” team president Danny Morrison recently told Steve Harrison of the Charlotte Observer. “The two options you would have somewhere down the line, in
10 or 15 years, would be a major renovation or something new.”
We’re not disputing the duration of the “normal NFL stadium cycle,” but we still have a hard time understanding why the “normal NFL stadium cycle” extends by only 30 years. With ten home games per year, the place ends up being used for football only 300 times before being razed.
Meanwhile, most people spend 350 days and nights in their homes per year, and houses aren’t demolished and rebuilt on an annual basis.
We know that the comparison is a bit of a stretch, but how can it be generally accepted that, for example, the $1.6 billion venue that opened seven days ago in New Jersey will need to be replaced after only 30 seasons of football?
Currently, the pressure seems to be coming not from the condition of the buildings but the time-honored notion of keeping up with the Joneses.
As in the Jerry Joneses.
Harrison’s article suggests that the new stadiums in Dallas and New York/Jersey have prompted other teams to begin coveting emerald palaces of their own, a mentality that could spark a never-ending cycle of stadium construction that continues indefinitely into the future, with the Cowboys and Jets/Giants eventually realizing that they now need new stadiums, too.
The NFL’s decision to stage an upcoming Super Bowl in the new Meadowlands Stadium will serve only to expand the number of cities in which an “if you build it, they will come” mentality emerges regarding the possibility of luring the biggest event in the American sports universe. And even without the potential for hosting a Super Bowl, the revenues that can be generated by the new stadiums will justify their pursuit.
Of course, those huge revenues can’t be realized in every city. And that will serve only to place more pressure on the franchises that currently are struggling to fill up on a regular basis the stadiums in which they now play. As the population and economic conditions shift and change, some cities simply will become not suited to house an NFL team, because NFL teams ultimately won’t be able to survive and thrive without the kind of stadium that won’t be profitable without enough people willing to show up and plunk down plenty of money to spend 10 afternoons or evenings per year there.