What you should know
On October 26, 1993, NFL owners unanimously selected Carolina as the 29th NFL franchise and the first expansion team since 1976. Fireworks exploded over uptown Charlotte as jubilant fans gathered to celebrate the news. "This is a dream come true for me and my partners and for the 10 million people in the Carolinas," said Carolina Panthers Owner/Founder Jerry Richardson, who became just the second former player to own an NFL team along with George Halas of the Chicago Bears.
The "dream" began on July 16, 1987 when Richardson met in Charlotte with a group of interested parties to discuss the feasibility of entering the multi-city competition for two NFL expansion franchises. On December 15, Richardson officially announced an NFL franchise bid for the Carolinas.
One of the first orders of business was to choose a stadium site. Locations in North and South Carolina were considered. On December 15, 1989, Richardson Sports selected a site in uptown Charlotte as the future home of a privately financed NFL stadium that would seat more than 70,000 fans.
Across the Carolinas, support for an NFL expansion team poured in at an unprecedented rate. U.S. Sens. Jesse Helms of North Carolina and Ernest Hollings of South Carolina lobbied NFL owners on the Carolinas behalf. Likewise, North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin and South Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell formed a blue-ribbon committee of leading citizens in both states. Fans demonstrated their enthusiasm by selling out preseason games in Raleigh, NC in 1989, Chapel Hill, NC in 1990 and Columbia, SC in 1991.
At the League owners meeting on March 18, 1992, the NFL reduced the list of expansion candidate cities from eleven to seven with the Carolinas making the cut. Two months later, the NFL narrowed the list of expansion hopefuls to five communities – Baltimore, St. Louis, Memphis, Jacksonville and the Carolinas.
However, on October 20, 1992, NFL owners decided to delay the expansion vote until the fall of 1993 because of a labor dispute between the League and the players. Fortunately, on January 6, 1993, the League and the players approved a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. On March 23, 1993, the expansion race officially resumed.
On June 3, Richardson Sports revealed its impressive plan to privately finance a 72,300-seat stadium from the sale of Permanent Seat Licenses, club seats and luxury boxes, beginning on July 1. A remarkable 15,000 pieces of mail from first-day orders were collected. By the end of the first day, all 8,314 club seats sold out and all 104 luxury suites were reserved and ultimately leased. First-day PSL orders totaled 41,632.
Finally, on October 26, 1993, NFL owners unanimously selected Carolina as the 29th NFL franchise.
April 16 Jerry Richardson approaches NationsBank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Hugh McColl, Jr. about the idea of bringing an NFL team to the Carolinas.
July 16 Jerry and Mark Richardson, NationsBank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Hugh McColl, Jr., attorney Richard Thigpen, Jr., Max Muhleman of Muhleman Marketing and John Lewis of Arthur Anderson and Company meet in Charlotte to discuss the feasibility of entering the multi-city competition for two NFL expansion franchises.
August 21 Mark Richardson travels to Kansas City, MO, to select HOK Sports Facilities Group as the architects for an NFL stadium.
December 15 Jerry Richardson officially announces an NFL franchise bid and the stadium effort for the Carolinas and starts lobbying NFL owners.
July 1 Jerry Richardson announces the near completion of franchise financing plans and the selection of four possible stadium sites - two in South Carolina and two in North Carolina.
April 11 Mike McCormack, a Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman with the Cleveland Browns and former Seattle Seahawks president, general manager and head coach, joins Richardson Sports as executive consultant for the Carolinas NFL expansion effort.
August 20 At "Carolinas Kickoff 89," staged by Richardson Sports, a sellout crowd of 52,855 in Raleighs Carter-Finley Stadium demonstrates the region's support of NFL football in the Carolinas as the New York Jets play the Philadelphia Eagles in an exhibition game.
September 5 Jerry Richardson announces the formation of a 12-member partnership group to bolster his expansion effort.
December 15 Richardson Sports selects a site in uptown Charlotte as the future site of a privately financed NFL stadium, which will seat more than 70,000 people.
August 11 At Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, NC, a sellout crowd of 52,036 watches the Washington Redskins play the Atlanta Falcons in "Carolinas Kickoff II," a preseason game billed as the "Backyard Battle."
February 26 F.N. Thompson Company of Charlotte is selected as the general contractor for the stadium.
June 26 South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell and North Carolina Governor Jim Martin officially announce their support for an NFL expansion team in the Carolinas by forming a blue-ribbon committee of leading citizens from both states.
August 24 69,117 fans cram Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC, for "Carolinas Kickoff III." The crowd represents the largest neutral-site attendance at an NFL exhibition game in ten years.
September 13 Richardson Sports submits a formal community application for a Carolinas NFL franchise along with a $100,000 deposit. The application outlines demographics, other market statistics and NationsBanks commitment to finance the stadium.
September 30 Richardson Sports submits a partnership application for a Carolinas franchise.
December 10 Richardson Sports makes a presentation to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and other NFL staff in New York.
March 18 At the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix, AZ, the list of expansion candidate cities is cut from eleven to seven with the Carolinas' bid making the cut.
May 20 At the NFL league meeting in Pasadena, CA, the NFL reduces the list of expansion hopeful to five communities, including Charlotte, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Memphis and St. Louis.
September 1 Jerry and Mark Richardson present a stadium-financing plan to NFL officials. The Richardsons disclose that no public money would be used to finance the stadium. The financing plan will involve the sale of Permanent Seat Licenses (PSLs).
October 20 At the NFL owners meeting in Chicago, league officials delay expansion until 1993 because of a labor dispute involving the players union collective bargaining agreement.
March 23 At the NFL league meeting in Palm Desert, CA, NFL owners announce the final timetable for expansion with plans calling for two teams to be awarded in October 1993.
April 20 The NFL approves Richardson Sports' plan to privately finance a 72,300-seat stadium with the sale of PSLs.
May 6 The NFL and its players reach a landmark settlement regarding a seven-year collective bargaining agreement, clearing the way for expansion.
May 20 Jerry Richardson unveils a model and renderings of a royal blue, silver and black, 72,300-seat stadium that would house an NFL expansion team for the Carolinas.
May 25 At the owners meeting in Atlanta, the NFL announces the price for an expansion team, $140 million.
July 1 A fair share agreement between Richardson Sports and the NAACP spells out far-reaching opportunities for minorities with the Carolinas NFL expansion team.
July 1 The sale of luxury suites, club seats and PSLs officially begins. Richardson Sports receives 15,000 pieces of mail from first-day orders collected from June 28-July 1. By the end of the day, all 8,314 club seats sell out and all 104 luxury suites are reserved and ultimately leased. (An additional 33 suites are later added to the stadium.) First day PSL orders total 41,632.
August 31 Richardson Sports delivers its financing plan to the NFL in New York.
September 3 The ticket campaign for potential NFL expansion cities ends with the Carolinas receiving orders for 104 luxury suites, 8,314 club seats and 49,724 PSLs. Deposits for luxury suites, club seats and PSLs total $54 million, representing a total pledge of $112.7 million.
September 10 Richardson Sports gives the NFL term sheets for loans to construct a state-of-the-art stadium and purchase the franchise.
September 13 Richardson Sports and Clemson University announce that the Carolinas expansion team would play its first season (1995) at Clemson Memorial Stadium.
September 22 Richardson Sports makes a presentation to the NFL Expansion and Finance Committees and league officials, including Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. They report to the league that NationsBank and Wachovia have posted a $30 million guarantee to purchase unsold PSLs. Effectively, the stadium is sold out, and total money pledged is $142.7 million.
October 26 At the league meeting in Chicago, NFL owners unanimously select the carolinas as the 29th NFL franchise and the first expansion team since 1976. Owners also vote to delay selection of the second franchise until November 30th with Baltimore, St. Louis, Jacksonville and Memphis still under consideration.
January 1 Jon Richardson officially joins the Carolina Panthers as director of stadium operations.
January 3 The Carolina Panthers put 12,000 remaining PSLs on sale. All orders received from January 3-8 are given first-day priority. In addition, the team announces that the remaining PSLs will be on sale until they are sold out. In all, Panthers fans respond from 16 states and the District of Columbia during the weeklong priority period.
January 12 Jerry Richardson announces the hiring of veteran NFL executive Bill Polian as general manager and the promotion of Mike McCormack to president.
April 22 Led by owner and founder Jerry Richardson, the Carolina Panthers hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the stadiums uptown site in Charlotte, NC. The construction is expected to take 27 months to complete.
April 24 The Carolina Panthers move to the front of the 1995 draft when owner and founder Jerry Richardson wins a coin flip with Wayne Weaver of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the NFL draft in New York.
May 3 Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC is chosen as the team's training camp site.
May 26 NFL owners vote to pit the expansion Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars against one another in the 1995 Hall of Fame game. The game will be the first in team history for both franchises.
July 19 The Carolina Panthers select Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, as the team's temporary practice site until completion of the team's facilities in Charlotte.
October 5 The Carolina Panthers hold their first free agent workout at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC.
November 2 NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue slots the Carolina Panthers in the NFC West with the Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers.
December 15 The Carolina Panthers sign the first players in team history. Matt Campbell, Randy Cuthbert, Kevin Farkas, Mike Finn, Willie Green, Carlson Leomiti, Darryl Moore, Tony Smith, Lawyer Tillman and Eric Weir makeup the original ten.
January 4 The Panthers hire the team's first coaches, adding offensive line coach Jim McNally and wide receivers coach Richard Williamson, both from the Cincinnati Bengals.
January 23 The Panthers name Dom Capers from the Pittsburgh Steelers as the first head coach in team history. Under Capers, the Steelers defense surrendered the fewest points in the NFL during his three seasons as defensive coordinator.
February 15 The Carolina Panthers select 35 players in the expansion draft. With the second overall pick, they choose cornerback Rod Smith from the New England Patriots.
February 20 The Carolina Panthers sign the first two unrestricted free agents in team history: kicker John Kasay from the Seattle Seahawks and defensive end Mike Fox from the New York Giants.
April 4 The Panthers take the field for the first time as a team in the first of a series of off-season workout sessions.
April 22 The Carolina Panthers make Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins the team's first draft choice, choosing him with the fifth overall selection, acquired from Cincinnati.
May 2 Panthers Owner and Founder Jerry Richardson resigns as chairman of Flagstar in order to devote his attention to his involvement in NFL activities. Richardson serves on several NFL committees.
May 3 Carolinas Stadium Corp hosts topping out ceremonies at the stadium, recognizing that construction has reached its highest point.
July 14 The Panthers report to the team's first ever training camp, marking the official beginning of the inaugural season.
July 29 The Carolina Panthers defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-14 in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH. The Panthers become the first team in NFL history to win its inaugural contest.
September 3 The Panthers lose 23-20 in overtime to the Atlanta Falcons in the team's first regular-season game.
October 15 The Panthers win their first game in franchise history, defeating the New York Jets 26-15. Sam Mills highlights the victory with a 36-yard interception return for a touchdown.
November 5 Carolina wins an expansion-record fourth game in a row, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 13-7 at 3Com Park. It is the first time in league history that an expansion team has defeated the defending Super Bowl champion.
December 24 The Panthers end their inaugural season with a 7-9 record, more than doubling the previous expansion-best mark of three wins. The NFLs seventh ranked defense had the best record of any non-playoff team during the seasons last eleven weeks, posting a 7-4 mark after opening the season 0-5. Carolina posts an expansion-best 5-3 home record at its home-away-from-home field at Clemson Memorial Stadium.
June 26 Carolina Panthers Director of Business Operations Mark Richardson announces an agreement to name the Panthers new home Ericsson Stadium.
July 26 The six bronze panthers that flank the stadium's three main entrances are unveiled. The statues are the largest sculptures ever commissioned in the United States.
July 27 The gates of Ericsson Stadium are opened for the first time at PSL Owner Appreciation Day, the first public event in the stadium.
August 3 The Panthers defeat the Chicago Bears, 30-12, in a preseason game, the team's first contest at their new home.
September 1 Carolina defeats the Atlanta Falcons, 29-6, in the first regular season game at Ericsson Stadium.
December 22 The Panthers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 18-14, with a last minute goal-line stand and, as a result, finish the season with a 12-4 record and win the NFC West division title. The team recovered from a 5-4 start to win its last seven games and earn a first-round bye in the playoffs.
January 5 Carolina defeats the defending Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys, 26-17, in the team's first playoff game.
March 12 Mike McCormack announces his retirement as president of the Carolina Panthers, ending a 46-year NFL career as a player, coach and executive.
April 2 Jon Richardson is named president of Carolinas Stadium Corp, and Mark Richardson is named president of the Carolina Panthers.
September 21 Mike McCormack is inducted as the first member of the Carolina Panthers Hall of Honor.
September 27 Sam Mills is inducted into the Carolina Panthers Hall of Honor, becoming the first former player to be so recognized.
January 4 George Seifert, who guided San Francisco to two Super Bowl titles as head coach and won a total of five Super Bowls with the 49ers, is named the second head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
May 22 NFL owners vote to realign into eight, four-team divisions. Beginning in 2002, the Carolina Panthers will move to the newly created NFC South with the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
January 25 The Panthers name John Fox from the New York Giants as the third head coach in team history. In Fox's five years as New York's defensive coordinator, the Giants defenses were characterized by success against the run, pressure on the passer, a penchant for takeaways and strong play in the red zone.
February 22 Marty Hurney is promoted to General Manager from Director of Football Operations.
December 14 Carolina defeats the Arizona Cardinals, 20-17, on a John Kasay game-winning 49-yard field goal with four seconds remaining to clinch the NFC South division title and earn the Panthers their second-ever playoff berth.
January 3 The Panthers make their first postseason appearance since 1996 and produce a 29-10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in an NFC Wild Card Playoff game.
January 10 In the NFC Divisional Playoffs, Carolina and St. Louis play the fifth-longest game in NFL history. The Panthers earn a dramatic 29-23 win against the Rams when Steve Smith catches a 69-yard touchdown pass from Jake Delhomme in the second overtime.
January 16 Carolina Panthers Owner/Founder Jerry Richardson announces an agreement to rename the Panthers home Bank of America Stadium.
January 18 The Panthers win the NFC Championship with a 14-3 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles to advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
February 1 Carolina faces the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
September 13 The Panthers celebrate their 10th season by recognizing their 10-year anniversary team.
August 13 Sam Mills, who served as Carolina's inspirational leader as a player and coach, has his number 51 retired, becoming the first Panthers player to have his number retired.
January 1 Carolina defeats the Atlanta Falcons, 44-11, in the regular season finale to clinch the franchise's third-ever playoff berth.
January 15 The Panthers win their fourth consecutive road game in the playoffs with a 29-21 NFC Divisional Playoff victory over the Chicago Bears to equal the NFL record for the most consecutive road postseason wins.