Stadium Firsts: Carolina Panthers at Ericsson Stadium, 8/3/1996

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Bank of America Stadium (formerly Ericsson Stadium) is the newest venue I’ve featured in this series, but even at that it’s already more than 20 years old. Of course these days in pro sports that’s an eternity.

After playing their inaugural NFL season at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium, the Carolina Panthers officially opened their new home on August 3, 1996 with a preseason opener against the Chicago Bears. Carolina, on their way to an eventual berth in the NFC Championship, easily handled Chicago 30-12.

The program for that day’s game features an illustration from the front of the stadium featuring one of the “Indomitable Spirit” panther sculptures.

Carolina Panthers vs. Chicago Bears (August 3, 1996)

Here is a commemorative coin given out to fans in attendance for that first game:

commemorative coin for Ericsson Stadium's first game, 1996

Ericsson Stadium changed names in 2004 after Bank of America bought the rights. In addition to serving as the home of the Panthers, the stadium also hosts college football’s annual Belk Bowl.