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Summer 2018 Wofford Today
Panthers

The Panthers are returning to Wofford

NFL team to practice in Spartanburg through 2019

Barry Phillips ’95 had been a fan of the NFL since he was 4 years old, so when Wofford College began hosting the Carolina Panthers for training camp the year he graduated, he was excited. Twenty years later his love for both the Terriers and the Panthers has extended to his own children.

“Wofford hosting the Panthers gave me a huge sense of pride, both as a recent Wofford graduate and also as a Spartanburg resident,” says Phillips, sales manager for Tindall Corp. in Spartanburg. “It’s cool to have a connection between your alma mater and an NFL franchise.”

Earlier this year the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, the Panthers and Wofford College announced that the team has extended its contract with Wofford, so summer training camp will continue on campus through at least 2019.

Phillips has raised his two daughters, ages 9 and 12, to be Panthers fans: “My daughters knew ‘Terriers’ and ‘Panthers’ before they knew their ABCs. It’s important to me for my girls to have a sense of pride for their community, and hosting summer training camp does that.”

Anna Habisreutinger Converse ’95 and her husband, Justin ’96, share the enthusiasm of their alma mater hosting the Panthers. “Our children, Marianna (12) and Hugh (10), have come to love sports and football in general—especially Wofford and Carolina Panthers football,” says Anna. “The excitement for them begins the second the Panthers players’ cars start rolling into town. The children are on the lookout for them around every turn and really look forward to seeing the players around campus. The players are very good at saying ‘hey’ to the children. It really makes for a huge hit.”

In 2014, Wofford hosted 49,000 visitors to training camp, and the Spartanburg community enjoyed a $5.2 million economic impact. “This is exciting news for the Spartanburg community and for tourism in our region,” said Chamber of Commerce CEO Allen Smith to an overflow crowd when he made the contract extension announcement on Feb. 9. During the announcement Smith was flanked by Wofford President Nayef Samhat and Carolina Panthers President Danny Morrison ’75.

“Spartanburg is proud to be among the handful of communities hosting an NFL training camp,” Smith added. “Most teams are moving to hold their camps on their home turf—only 11 of 32 teams hold training camp away from their home cities. I want to thank Jerry Richardson ’59, owner of the Panthers, and Wofford College for creating this partnership for the community in which we all can share and enjoy.”

According to Smith, based on last year’s figures, Wofford College and the Spartanburg community will welcome 245,000 Panthers fans for a total economic impact of more than $26 million over the next five years.

Panthers summer training camp is held each summer from late July to mid-August. Practices are free and open to the public, and Wofford hosts a community party during the opening weekend to celebrate camp.

by Laura Hendrix Corbin