Bank of America Stadium Renovations

Bank of America Stadium Renovations

North Carolina

When completed in 1996, the original Carolinas Stadium was designed to present a fortress-like exterior to approaching fans. With its massive archways, domed towers and striking black facade, the stadium was designed to be a monument to the Carolina Panthers and serves them as not only a home field, but also as a self-contained headquarters including the training facility and administrative offices.

The stadium is an enclosed bowl with three impressive main entrances. Matching pairs of panthers, seven feet high and perched on ten-foot pedestals, flank either side of each of the three entryways. Signature light domes top each of the six entry towers which were lit Panther blue on game nights.

The stadium was considered so far ahead of its time that it only underwent minor improvements until the 2013–14 offseason. By that time, expansive video boards, video ribbon board and express escalators had become common in the league. The iconic Panther-blue light domes had also faded and become less impressive over time. Walter P Moore provided structural assessment, strengthening and new structural design for a number of improvements to the facility.

Express Escalators
Following the opening of the stadium in 1996, it became a priority in stadium design to utilize escalators to transport fans to upper decks of stadiums rather than the older ramp system. Walter P Moore added a series of scissoring escalators between the main entrances to carry fans to both the suite deck and the upper deck. This required the addition of four towers to support a total of 12 escalator runs which had to be integrated into the existing stadium levels.

Our team removed precast concrete panels and tied the new towers into the existing lateral system while retaining the original look and feel of the stadium façade. The addition of the escalator towers also offered an opportunity to create a covered area on the upper deck which had previously had limited space for spectators to get a break from the sun. The new canopies cover the entire escalator tower and contain large fans providing comfortable party zone and concessions areas.

Video Boards and Ribbons
The most dramatic change to the interior of the stadium came with the installation of new video score boards and 360-degree ribbon boards. The existing video boards installed in 2017, had been mounted on a 215’x45’ structure which was cantilevered off concrete columns supporting the upper deck seating bowl. At 250’x80’, the new taller and wider video board structure required significantly more strength from those columns. After considering multiple options, the team designed 22’x18’ steel plates which could be sandwiched around the existing supports to strengthen the connection.

These plates were each 14,000 pounds and required 96 anchor rods apiece to securely connect them to the existing concrete columns. The team scanned each of the columns to map the underlying reinforcement and then carefully designed the anchor rod locations to avoid all the rebar they were able to locate. A few additional pieces were found during installation, so our team worked closely with the contractor to analyze and redesign those anchor rod locations as quickly as possible to keep the construction schedule on track.

Small ribbon boards had been installed between the upper and lower deck in 2007, but these were only capable of displaying the score, time clock and minimal advertising. Walter P Moore removed these and installed twin, 5’ tall, 360-degree ribbon boards which flank the suite level between the upper and lower deck. The new ribbon boards were the tallest in the NFL and the video boards were among the top ten largest in the NFL when installed.

Iconic Light Domes
As part of an overall lighting package that converted the entire stadium to high-efficiency LED lighting, our team worked with a specialty lighting consultant to verify that the entrance towers could bear the weight of replacement domes. Mounted 100 ft in the air, the new light domes can broadcast the same intense Panther blue as the original domes, but are also capable of much more intricate designs and color changes due to the use of programmable LED ribs.

Perimeter Security
Following the 9/11 terror attacks, many stadium owners evaluated means of hardening their facilities to protect fans and teams from potential attacks. Walter P Moore’s Secure Design experts worked with the Panter’s owners to evaluate potential risks and determined that minimal perimeter security would be sufficient. Our team designed a series of benches, bollards and planters to protect patrons from potential vehicle attacks as well as keep unauthorized vehicles away from structural components of the stadium.

Additional 2014 Improvements
At nearly 20 years old, there were several small aspects of the stadium that required attention. Walter P Moore provided structural assessments of the decorative, arched panels that surround the top of the upper deck which had started to crack and drop bits of concrete. Several of these panels required repair but many only needed minimal surface treatment. Our team also provided connections for a new field goal net and provided an assessment of the lighting towers along the upper deck. The lighting tower assessment led to a comprehensive condition assessment of the entire stadium by Walter P Moore’s diagnostic and repair experts in 2015 who designed a series of recommended structural and waterproofing repairs to be implemented during the 2015 thru 2020 off seasons.

2015 Ticket Office Expansion
During the 2015 offseason, Walter P Moore was again engaged by the Panthers to expand their original ticket office. The original 1996 office was an independent structure which stretched from the exterior wall to the lower concourse but left a significant amount of unused and inaccessible space to either side and above before meeting the suite level. Our team removed this independent structure, added a floor between the ground level and suite level and reconfigured stairs to access the slightly-raised lower concourse level. Working within the existing stadium structure, the team designed retaining walls and stabilized the deep-pile foundations, so they could dig out a new stair structure and elevator pit. Ultimately, we more than tripled the Ticket Office space providing much needed additional operations, administrative and storage space.