On October 26, 1993, NFL owners unanimously selected
Carolina as the 29th NFL franchise and the first expansion team
since 1976. Fireworks exploded over uptown Charlotte as jubilant
fans gathered to celebrate the news. "This is a dream come true for
me and my partners and for the 10 million people in the Carolinas,"
said Carolina Panthers Owner/Founder Jerry Richardson,
who became just the second former player to own an NFL team along
with George Halas of the Chicago Bears.
The "dream" began on July 16, 1987 when Richardson met in Charlotte
with a group of interested parties to discuss the feasibility of
entering the multi-city competition for two NFL expansion
franchises. On December 15, Richardson officially announced an NFL
franchise bid for the Carolinas.
One of the first orders of business was to choose a stadium site.
Locations in North and South Carolina were considered. On December
15, 1989, Richardson Sports selected a site in uptown Charlotte as
the future home of a privately financed NFL stadium that would seat
more than 70,000 fans.
Across the Carolinas, support for an NFL expansion team poured in at
an unprecedented rate. U.S. Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina
and Ernest Hollings of South Carolina lobbied NFL owners on the
Carolinas behalf. Likewise, North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin and South
Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell formed a blue-ribbon committee of
leading citizens in both states. Fans demonstrated their enthusiasm
by selling out preseason games in Raleigh, NC in 1989, Chapel Hill,
NC in 1990 and Columbia, SC in 1991.
At the League owners meeting on March 18, 1992, the NFL reduced the
list of expansion candidate cities from eleven to seven with the
Carolinas making the cut. Two months later, the NFL narrowed the
list of expansion hopefuls to five communities – Baltimore, St.
Louis, Memphis, Jacksonville and the Carolinas.
However, on October 20, 1992, NFL owners decided to delay the
expansion vote until the fall of 1993 because of a labor dispute
between the League and the players. Fortunately, on January 6, 1993,
the League and the players approved a new Collective Bargaining
Agreement. On March 23, 1993, the expansion race officially resumed.
On June 3, Richardson Sports revealed its impressive plan to
privately finance a 72,300-seat stadium from the sale of Permanent
Seat Licenses, club seats and luxury boxes, beginning on July 1. A
remarkable 15,000 pieces of mail from first-day orders were
collected. By the end of the first day, all 8,314 club seats sold
out and all 104 luxury suites were reserved and ultimately leased.
First-day PSL orders totaled 41,632.
Finally, on October 26, 1993, NFL owners unanimously selected
Carolina as the 29th NFL franchise.
The Carolina Panthers reached the NFC Championship
game in only their second season with a record of 12 - 4 in
the regular season. They lost to Green Bay
in Wisconsin on a cold snowy afternoon to end their playoff hopes
with a 1 - 1 record.
The Panthers struggled for many seasons,
changing coaches twice during that time. Coach John Fox has
Panthers new direction onto becoming a playoff contender. In
Fox led the Panthers to an impressive 11 - 5 season, a
playoff birth for the first time since 1996 and their first Super
Bowl appearance in franchise history.
The Panthers fell short of the NFL
championship by only 3 points in a last minute field goal by the
New England Patriots. But the Panthers came out of that game
with a new perspective and a new strategy for success in the future.
They are determined to return and win what they could not on
February 1, 2004.
In 2005 the Panthers took the field with a quest in mind. In
a hard fought season they finished 11 - 5 and clinched a Playoff
spot in the NFC Wildcard. After Blowing out the NY
Giants 23-0 and got payback against the Chicago Bears at home in
a close 29-21 nail-biter. But the road to Super Bowl XL ended
prematurely in Seattle as the Seahawks
de-clawed the Panthers in a 34 -14 rout. The Panthers
finished the Playoffs with a 2 - 1 record and an appearance in the
Pro Bowl for Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith &
Once again the Panthers
look into the future with a hope and passion for something they never
had......Keep the dream alive!