The Carolina Panthers came into the NFL in 1996. At that point, they opened what is now known as Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Your math is not deceiving you. That's 14 years for the 74,000-seat stadium (above) the Panthers call home. In that time, it's hosted 142 Panthers games, counting preseason and playoffs.
Doesn't sound like a lot of wear on the stadium, does it?
Despite what seems obvious, the Panthers are actually talking about the future, which would include either renovations to the stadium or a project to build a new one.
Team president Danny Morrison spoke about the situation with the Charlotte Observer recently.
"You would have to think we're in the middle of a normal NFL stadium cycle ... The two options you would have somewhere down the line, in 10 or 15 years, would be a major renovation or something new."This sounds absolutely insane, but it's not out of line with current NFL practices at all.
The Jets and Giants just replaced Giants Stadium, which was built in 1976. New Cowboys Stadium replaced Texas Stadium, which opened in 1971. The Minnesota Vikings are actively seeking a new stadium to replace the Metrodome, which opened in 1982.
(Already, two teams who called the Metrodome home -- the Minnesota Twins and the University of Minnesota football program -- have replaced it with new stadiums of their own.)
Theorizing a stadium life cycle of 30 years is probably on the low end of what reality should be, but the Panthers are actually being smart about this. There have been no demands of any kind, and there has been no formal request for even a study about the stadium.
That's good, because there have been no reports of the stadium being inadequate. You could look at Candlestick Park and the Metrodome, and you could see good reason for those stadiums being replaced. They had worn out their usefulness, and were no longer producing nearly enough revenue to be considered economically-viable in today's NFL climate.
The Panthers know they have a good situation. After all, the Panthers are consistently a upper-tier franchise in the NFL in terms of revenue, despite the presence of newer stadiums in bigger markets around the league. That said, they won't be that high in revenue forever. With Minnesota and San Francisco both looking for new facilities, and the possibility of a team moving to Los Angeles in the coming years, the Panthers' place in the upper half of the league's financial standings is not secure.
In the big-money game of football, you need to be consistently looking for ways to improve your standing. The Panthers are doing that, and they should at least be saluted for their pro-active actions.
Of course, that doesn't make this any less insane. Good thing owner Jerry Richardson financed Bank of America Stadium himself, because he'd probably have a hard time convincing the public that a publicly-financed stadium was obsolete after his football team used it under 200 times. This sell is going to be tough enough as is, but at least Richardson doesn't have to hear about all the money taxpayers sunk into the initial construction.