Panthers charging to get into training camp practice in Charlotte

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The Panthers are now charging for what used to be their biggest free event of the year. And in the process, they’ve opened the door to any opposing scouts who wanted to swing by.

The Panthers have confirmed they’re selling tickets to this year’s Aug. 4 Fan Fest practice, and the $5 per ticket will be donated to the team’s charitable arm.

“Due to increased demand and precautions for fan safety, all patrons must have a ticket to attend the event,” Panthers director of communications Steven Drummond said. “Admission will be $5 for a reserved ticket. Proceeds from Fan Fest will benefit Carolina Panthers Charities and will support grant funding awards to non-profit organizations that serve communities in the two-state region.”

The team was overwhelmed two years ago, when more than 55,000 fans showed up for the event after they moved it to a Friday night and had a huge walk-up crowd. But it was a little too crowded, and they chose to issue free tickets last year. Attendance was announced at over 40,000, though rains kept the crowd down as much as anything.

Their regular camp practices at Wofford College in Spartanburg are still free and open to the public.

Other teams have limited camp practices open to the public (the Colts will have just two). The Seahawks don’t charge for attendance, but make fans pay to be shuttled to the team facility from an offsite parking lot.

The Panthers are not the first team to charge, as Washington did in 2000 upon moving their camp to Ashburn, Va. The Vikings considered it a few years later, but owner Ziggy Wilf pulled the plug on the idea after some negative reaction.

Part of the reason more teams don’t bother is a league rule that allows opposing scouts into any event a team charges fans to attend. Of course, that rule might not be as pertinent today as it was in the pre-social media days of 2000, when the Cowboys sent a scout to check on their division rivals and happily bought a ticket to take notes.

And while many will howl about charging for anything that used to be free, the charitable donation will offset some of the hard feelings. The bigger issue is purely one of optics, as well the clear look at their practice they’re giving to the Falcons, Saints, Buccaneers, or anyone else who might be interested.

9 responses to “Panthers charging to get into training camp practice in Charlotte

  1. I get that football is a business. But for a lot of fans, particularly underprivileged fans who could never afford a ticket to a game, practice is the only chance to see their favorite team in action. Even $5 can be a lot to a family struggling to get by. All this does is scream that those fans don’t count.

  2. Speaking of the Seattle plan to offer “free” admission but charge a mandatory bus fee at a mall site a few miles away, it’s just an obvious way to get around the “charging a fee” for admission ploy. The real rub is that the Seahawks don’t to anything on a field near to the fans and only practice in earnest, minus a few basic drills, on the far side. Fans can’t see much of anything without binoculars. They get to watch the punter, kicker and long snapper work out in front of them while the rest of the squad does their work far away. An opposing scout could do that too, but they won’t get much that far away.

  3. “The Panthers are now charging for what used to be their biggest free event of the year. And in the process, they’ve opened the door to any opposing scouts who wanted to swing by.”

    So you are assuming no scouts ever go to opponents’ free practices. That’s very naïve of you.

  4. They have the worse training camp ever. It’s always 120 degree’s there with 80% humidity.

    Richardson needs to come off some of that Hardee’s money and get these guys an indoor facility.

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