Professor giving a lecture to students in old main
Carolina Panthers to train in Spartanburg through 2019

By Eric Boynton
eric.boynton@shj.com
Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Published: Monday, February 9, 2015

Carolina Panthers training camp (Herald-Journal Photo)Spartanburg's close relationship with the NFL will continue for at least another five years after Monday's announcement that the Carolina Panthers and Wofford College have agreed to an extension that will keep summer training camp on campus through 2019.

The Panthers continue to resist the trend of NFL teams holding training camp at their home facilities, with Carolina now among only 11 of 32 franchises who travel off site. It's the fourth-longest to be held at the same site, with only the Steelers, Packers and Vikings maintaining longer ties with a college.
 
“I think it shows strength in our relationship and we are in a rare group of communities who are able to host an NFL camp away from the home turf,” said Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Allen Smith. “To get five years is just tremendous and it's indeed a great day for Spartanburg.”
 
Wofford has been the lone training camp host for all 20 seasons of the Panthers' existence. The long-standing relationship stems mainly from team owner Jerry Richardson being a Wofford graduate while having started a successful business in the city. Richardson has long stressed the importance of his team being identified with both Carolinas and the training camp location helps South Carolina to feel a sense of ownership of the team that plays its games in Charlotte.
 
Helping to extend the team's fan base in addition to the exposure and economic impact created in Spartanburg has provided a fortuitous situation for both factions. The Panthers are coming off the first back-to-back division championships by any team in the history of the NFC South and won their first playoff game since the 2005 season.
 
“It's been win-win for everybody,” Panthers president Danny Morrison said. “Mr. Richardson calls it the Carolina Panthers for a reason. Both (states) are important and having a presence in South Carolina for training camp has been very important. We've had great success here in Spartanburg and the amenities at Wofford are just fantastic.
 
“There's so much interest in the NFL and we're so fortunate to be a part of this great umbrella. Training camp is just another part of the excitement around an NFL season.”
 
According to figures provided by the chamber, last year's training camp drew 49,000 attendees and created a $5.2 million economic impact for the area. That figure drawn out over the new five-year agreement tops $25 million, with attendance approaching 250,000. Smith cited two studies commissioned by the Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau that training camp generated $1.22 million in taxes and fees for local and state government last year.
 
It's impossible to put a monetary figure on the national exposure the city and college gain whenever the two are mentioned in various media reports over the three weeks of camp that begin every late July. And the initial upgrade in the school's athletic facilities — from playing fields to the weight room and locker room — to be able to host an NFL team continues to be a huge positive for the Terriers.
 
“We've had such a great 20-year run here at Wofford and in the Upstate,” Morrison said. “Now we've got a chance to just continue that for the next five years and it was just something we'd looked forward to getting done. It's been rolling on about a five-year increment, so that's why it's five years. Wofford couldn't have treated us better and the Spartanburg community is really behind the training camp, so that's important to us.”
 
Wofford President Nayef Samhat was thrilled his institution will continue as camp host for a minimum of five more seasons, understanding the special situation that continues to exist in a changing age.
 
“This is just an extraordinary and unique opportunity for a college and a community like ours to have an NFL franchise training here,” Samhat said. “We all have to work hard day in and day out to make sure it continues and that it helps everybody, in particular the Panthers. We never take the Panthers for granted. Mr. Richardson is a special owner who cares deeply about the college and about Spartanburg.”
 
Reprinted with permission