Get to Know Charlotte's Pro Sports

In Charlotte, packed stadiums, courts and fields roar with the thunder of applause all year long. Longtime fans and newcomers alike are encouraged to root for the home teams.

By Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

Panthers by Patrick SchneiderCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

Football: Carolina Panthers

On October 26, 1993, fireworks exploded over Uptown Charlotte as excited fans celebrated the newest NFL team: The Carolina Panthers, the 29th NFL expansion franchise. 

Panthers Stadium by Patrick SchneiderCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

Since then, the team’s frequent and fabulous come-from-behind fourth quarter finishes have earned them the nickname the “Cardiac Cats,” and the team’s mantra, “Keep Pounding,” inspired by former Panther player and coach Sam Mills, has become a message of perseverance for Charlotteans.

Panthers Stadium by Patrick SchneiderCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

"Keep Pounding"

Both players and fans can thank Sam Mills, a former linebacker turned assistant coach, for the team's battle cry. Mills was preparing for his fifth season as a coach when he was diagnosed with terminal intestinal cancer. He was given three months to live. Against all odds, four months later, Mills was on the sideline when the Panthers played in their first Super Bowl, a narrow loss to the New England Patriots. The words he shared with the players that day still ring true: "When I found out I had cancer, there were two things I could do: quit or keep pounding," Mills said. "I'm a fighter. I kept pounding. You're fighters, too. Keep pounding!" Mills coached the next season as well and lived 17 months longer than predicted before succumbing to the disease in April of 2005 at the age of 45. Still to this day, "Keep Pounding" is the team motto and keeps Mills' competitive spirit alive. 

Panthers Stadium by Patrick SchneiderCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

Each game day, fans inside Bank of America Stadium look on as mascot Sir Purr hands a mallet to a designated “pounder,” who then strikes the “Keeping Pounding” drum to signal the start of the game.

CLT Hornets by UnknownCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

Basketball: Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte’s affection for professional basketball stretches back to 1988 when the Charlotte Hornets were one of four new teams brought into the league. During the American revolution, Charlotte became known as a "hornet's nest of rebellion" after British soldiers were forced to retreat during the Battle of Charlotte. Since 1819, the hornet's nest has been a symbol of pride and strength for the city, making it the perfect name for the city's first professional basketball team. In fact, the team was originally going to be called the Charlotte Spirit, but a name-the-team contest yielded “Hornets” as the winning choice.

CLT Hornets by UnknownCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

The “original” Hornets were incredibly popular in the Queen City, but in 2002, the team left for New Orleans and Charlotte became the home of the Bobcats.

CLT Hornets by UnknownCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

After minority owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan took control of the team in their sixth season, he restored the Hornets name and the hype for “Buzz City” skyrocketed.

CLT Hornets by UnknownCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

Find them in Spectrum Center, a.k.a the Hive, with their mascot Hugo the Hornet.

CLT Knights by Cody HughesCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

Baseball in Charlotte: A Brief History

Baseball has been part of the Queen City for over 100 years. In the 1800s, a minor league team, called "Hornets," played one season in the 19th century South Atlantic League. In 1901, the Charlotte Hornets was officially coined as an American minor league baseball franchise. In 1987, the team was bought by George Shin, who founded the NBA Charlotte Hornets. He renamed the team "Charlotte Knights" and moved the team to Fort Mill, South Carolina, for several years before finally moving back and settling the team in Uptown Charlotte in 2013. 

CLT Knights by Cody HughesCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

Dubbed the “Best Ball Park in Minor League Baseball” by Baseball America, BB&T Ballpark (now Truist Field) has quickly become the place to be for a great evening out during the warm Charlotte summer evenings.

CLT Knights by Cody HughesCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

Baseball: Charlotte Knights

Professional baseball came to Charlotte in spring 2014, when BB&T Ballpark (now Truist Field) opened and AAA Chicago White Sox affiliate the Charlotte Knights moved from Fort Mill, South Carolina, to Uptown Charlotte. 

CLT Knights Fireworks by Patrick SchneiderCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

In addition to fireworks and special appearances from mascot Homer the Dragon, fans love the NC Local Craft Beer Garden with drafts from favorite hometown breweries.

CLT Checkers by Charlotte CheckersCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

Hockey: Charlotte Checkers

In the 1940s, the Charlotte Clippers captured the Eastern Hockey League’s regular-season and playoff titles in dominant fashion. However, in the late 1950s, the team renamed itself the Charlotte Checkers and found itself struggling on the ice. Loss after loss led to dangers of the team being disbanded. But thanks to a citizen's fundraising group, the team was able to stay afloat. Over the next few seasons, coach Fred Creighton slowly built the Checkers back into an EHL powerhouse, winning back-to-back championships in 1971 and 1972.

CLT Checkers by Charlotte CheckersCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

In their first AHL season, the Checkers posted 44 wins and 94 points during the regular season, marking the best totals for Carolina’s top affiliate since 2004-05, and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, which was the deepest a Carolina affiliate had gone since 1997.

CLT Checkers by Charlotte CheckersCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

After 10 seasons at Time Warner Cable Arena (now the Spectrum Center), the Checkers returned to their roots at a renovated Bojangles' Coliseum (now the Bojangles Entertainment Complex) beginning with the 2015-16 season.

CLT Checkers by Charlotte CheckersCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

After returning to Bojangles’ Coliseum, the Checkers’ record improved for four consecutive seasons, culminating in a dominant 2018-19 campaign that saw them earn their first Calder Cup as American Hockey League champions.

CLT Checkers by Charlotte CheckersCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

Kids especially love Chubby, the team’s mascot, who dances on the ice at the drop of a puck

CLT Motor Speedway by Kyo H NamCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

Racing & NASCAR 

With more than 85 percent of NASCAR’s teams located in the region and Charlotte Motor Speedway in nearby Concord, Charlotte is racing country.

CLT Motor Speedway by Kyo H NamCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

The Coca-Cola 600 is an annual 600-mile NASCAR Cup Series points race held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord. Traditionally held during Memorial Day Weekend, the first race was held in 1960 and is the longest race on NASCAR's schedule.

CLT Motor Speedway by Kyo H NamCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

The Bank of America Roval 400 is another NASCAR Cup Series race held at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This race is typically held on the last weekend of September and is run as a 400 kilometer (248.5 mi) race using the infield road course configuration the track calls "The Roval."

CLT Motor Speedway by Kyo H NamCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

The NASCAR All-Star Race is the third annual NASCAR Cup Series race held at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The All-Star Race is a stock car exhibition race between winners from the previous season and the beginning of the current season, as well as all past event winners. The first race was held in 1985.

CLT Motor Speedway by Kyo H NamCharlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA)

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Learn how the sport got started and see relics from famed drivers at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which is located in Uptown Charlotte. This museum gives visitors a first-hand look at the sport with riveting simulators, experiences and artifacts.

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