Since it seems like all we're seeing are Hardy/Nicks/Draft posts, I wanted to make one that was more fun and gets me pumped up for the 2014 season when I think about it.....and that's away game trips.
The schedule usually comes out in mid/late April - typically two weeks or so before the draft. I know the draft was pushed back this year so it may be the beginning of May before the dates are announced. As soon as the schedule comes out I will have plans finalized for a few away game options within 10-14 days.
I wanted to start this thread to get some feedback on some games that you would like to go to next year AND to encourage you to put a few dollars away each month starting NOW, so that you can participate on the trips if you want to. Several Huddlers went to Miami and ATL with us last year, and I'm confident they will vouch for how much fun we all have traveling together as Panthers fans.
Here are the best options for 2014, IMO
1) ATL: We've been here 6 years in a row. We finally got our first win, so that monkey is off our back. No-brainer, we always make this trip at the very least. We had a solid tailgate in ATL this past season since everyone in Charlotte decided to take over that POS dome. Let's go ahead and make plans to take over the dome against next season. I'm going to add a 1-day option to the group as well as the normal 2-day trip we offer. I really, REALLY want to have 200 Panthers fans all sitting together in the same section next season. I'm not sure I can put into words how epic it would be to dominate an entire section of the dome.
2) Baltimore: Baltimore is my first target outside of ATL. My goal is to do at least one AFC away game every because we only play in their stadiums once every eight years. If we get Baltimore before November then I'm going to set it up - I'm not interested in going up there and freezing my a$$ off. Pros of Baltimore: cheap to fly, not a bad drive, we will partner with the DC Panthers group and they're an awesome group of Panthers fans, tons of stuff to do in the inner harbor, possibly catch an Orioles' game, and a recent Super Bowl Champ
3) Tampa: If the Baltimore game is late then I'm going to set up Tampa. I may actually do both if there's enough interest. We play at Tampa every year so it's one that we can always do, but here are the pros about Tampa: Easy to get tickets, warm weather, I've got a great hotel I'm already in contact with that is in Clearwater. The hotel is in the beach, has a huge pool, an awesome tiki bar, and volleyball courts. There are several bars in the hotel and in the area. Once there we would have everything we need.
4) New Orleans: I get requests every year for a New Orleans trip. I haven't done it in the past because group tickets are really tough to get. Those swamp people do rally around their team and since the demand is high and the prices are pretty low, the supply is almost nonexistent. HOWEVER....I have recently made a contact that has 300 seats in the dome, all pretty much in the same area. So NoLa could actually be a possibility for the first time.
5) Cincy: When I saw Cincy on the schedule I didn't even look twice at it originally but it doesn't seem like a very attractive destination for an away game vacation. But then I thought about it more (I've been there twice) and there are actually some cool places to stay in Cincy. And right across the bridge in Kentucky is a fun area of bars and entertainment. Since their team is actually worth a crap (like we can talk) it actually may be a fun trip. Pros: It meets the AFC criteria, the Reds could potentially be playing the same weekend, decent team, good bars, and not too far of a drive from NC.
Those are what I think are the best options. Like I said.....just writing that out and thinking about next year's trips gets me pumped up. Let me know if you guys have any thoughts or feedback on those destinations or have another suggestion on a place I should look at.