It has been a long time since a professional sports team in North Carolina was this good. Traditionally, local teams have underperformed. Yet, the Carolina Panthers are having a remarkable season — the first 15 win season in the NFL since the New England Patriots in 2007.
The Carolina Hurricanes have been in a severe playoff drought. They haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2009 — Leesville’s current juniors were fourth-graders at the time. The Hurricanes did win a Stanley Cup, albeit it has been ten years. The Charlotte Hornets, formerly the Charlotte Bobcats, have been marred by a lack of success. When they have made the playoffs, the Hornets have not made it far. The time period where they were known as the Bobcats, they were notorious for not winning.
Some North Carolinians may be letting out a sigh of relief now. Afterall, it feels good to win, especially when local team success is rather rare. There is excitement in the air as everyone thinks about the prospect of winning Super Bowl 50, following the Panthers’ dominating performance in the NFC Championship game. This is their third straight season of qualifying for the playoffs, but this is the first time making it to the Super Bowl since 2003.
This success is helping boost the local Charlotte economy. With spectators travelling to the area, they need commodities such as hotels and restaurants. When the Panthers play big games at Bank of America Stadium, hotel revenue increases by 40 percent.
North Carolina has bonded over this success as well, with countless teams around the state from universities such as Duke University to the professional teams like the Hornets voicing their support for the Panthers with the hashtag #onecarolina.
In contrast, the Hurricanes are at the bottom of NHL attendance this year. They are averaging 11,500 fans per game, down from just 12,600 per game last year. But as a hometown fan, that is all the more reason to be elated about the Panthers.