By MICHELLE BOUDIN / NBC Charlotte, January 9, 2014
It’s a whole lot of fun being a Panthers fan right now.
Charlotte fan Darren Joyner says, “It’s electric. I believe the city is behind them, looking forward to the game this weekend.”
“I’m going to have my own private Panther party,” Pat Cunningham told us.
But police are prepping for the very public Panther party. About 75,000 fans are expected to pack the stadium for the sold out playoff game, and thousands more will be nearby.
CMPD Captain Mike Campagna told reporters, “It’s been too long since we’ve had this kind of excitement uptown, so we’re really looking forward to big crowds.”
And they’ve been getting ready for them. More police officers will be in the uptown area all weekend, beginning with Friday’s pep rally at the Epicentre.
Police are hoping the rowdy crowd will be a friendly one.
“We know trash talk is part of the game. People have high emotion, it’s a high stake game. Add that to a little bit of alcohol, we know that can cause problems. Drink responsibly, bring your manners,” Campagna said.
While other cities often have undercover police among the opposing fans, he says they’re not too worried about the 49ers crowd.
“There are certain teams you have more fights and disturbances with. We’re not expecting that from San Fran fans but it’s a high stakes game.”
And just like the rest of us, Campagna says the police are really pulling for the Panthers.
“Hopefully we will win for many reasons — can get to the national championship, and if we win, I’ve got 60- 70,000 happy fans and a few sad. If we lose it goes the other way.”
Police are also reminding people to be careful to make sure they don’t get towed. They say don’t park at a bagged meter, instead find a deck or designated lot. Also, if you plan on scalping a ticket, you may want to check the barcode with the Panthers ticket office to make sure it’s legitimate.