The Carolina Panthers unveiled Tuesday their first phase of renovations for Bank of America Stadium, which will include four new escalator bays and video boards that are more than twice as large as the current screens.
The team said it will start the $65 million renovations in two weeks. The Panthers play their first playoff game in five years Sunday, and could host the NFC Championship a week later if the team wins and Seattle Seahawks lose this weekend.
The renovations are mostly funded by the city of Charlotte. The Charlotte City Council last year voted to give the team $87.5 million in exchange for a firm six-year “tether” to keep the team in Charlotte.
Of that $87.5 million, $75 million is being slated to towards construction. The rest of the money — $12.5 million — are operating subsidies for the team.
The Panthers are spending $37.5 million for this phase of improvements.
The city’s contribution comes from its Convention Center fund, which is funded by a 3 percent tax on hotel and motels rooms and a 1 percent tax on prepared food and beverages in Mecklenburg County.
The team hired Turner Construction for the 2014 renovations, which are scheduled to be finished July 1.
The Panthers plan to build four new escalator bays to bring fans to the upper bowl faster. The escalators can carry 6,000 people an hour, the team said.
The escalator bays are designed to blend in with the stadium’s architecture.
Team president Danny Morrison said the escalators were the team’s “No. 1 priority.”
On top of the escalator bays will be four new “party plazas.” These spaces will allow fans in the upper bowl to congregate, watch games on TVs and have views of the city and uptown skyscrapers.
The team installed its current video boards in 2008. The new boards will be 2.5 times as large, and have a higher resolution, said architect David Wagner, who is working with the team.
The new board will be 200 feet wide and 60 feet high.
In addition to the video boards, the team will install two new “ribbon boards” on the interior of the stadium. The team already has ribbon boards, but the new boards will be larger, giving the team more opportunities to show in-game statistics, fantasy football statistics and advertising.
The team will also install flagpoles on the top of the upper bowl that will double as new speakers to improve the stadium sound system.
As part of its agreement with the city, the Panthers agreed to provide the city and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority with five rent-free days a year, from January to June.
One of the rent-free days is used for the Belk Bowl, played in December. But the city and CRVA won’t be able to use the stadium for a special event during construction this year, Morrison said.
The team plans to push the rent-free dates into the future, he said.