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Old 08-15-2011, 09:49 PM
632 posts, read 1,835,453 times
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Anyone made the trip to Charlotte to watch the Panthers play?

I've never been to a pro football game before, so I thought we'd check out a game down in Charlotte; it's scheduled to start at 1:00 pm. If driving down the morning of the game, from Wake Forest, how early would one need to leave? If coming back the same evening, how late a return would that be? Are hotels hard to come by in Charlotte for game weekend, say 6-7 weeks in advance?

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Old 08-16-2011, 06:36 AM
Location: Central North Carolina
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Might do better to post on the Charlotte forum, but I'll answer what I can.

Couple things:
1. Charlotte has light rail, so rather than trying to negotiate downtown traffic, you can consider driving over to South Blvd area and taking the rail in. Others will do that too, but surely it will be more spread out, and therefore less traffic. Likewise, there are lots of good restaurants along the lite rail, AND in downtown for you to kill time before or after the game.

Charlotte is a big city, with lots of hotel rooms. My guess is that they surely fill up some, but again if you are flexible with location, then I assume that you can easily get a room, BUT...

Depending on where you live in our area, it's only 2-3 hours (and on the lite side, I think). Charlotte has great roads, and it's easy to get to the right highway from any of the mentioned locations. If it were me, and if I had a DD, I'd come home (but that's just me).

Oh, just read, and you said WF. Prolly closer to three hours, but google maps, and mapquest is your friend, you can look that up and get a good answer. FWIW, I would leave early though for a 1PM game. I like the tailgate scene, so I'd get there by 10-ish, so leave at 7AM. 8 at the latest. (Games are expensive, better late than early....)
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:41 AM
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Quite a few folks come down the Saturday before a game then leave after the game is over. Hotel rooms aren't that hard to come by simply because there are quite a few hotels to choose from. However, there is a price hike during special events. If you are looking for a nice and "cheaper" option uptown, try Aloft or Hotel Sierra.

Downtown Charlotte Hotels | Uptown Charlotte Hotels | Aloft Charlotte Uptown at the EpiCentre

Hotel Sierra
Charlotte Hotels | Hotel Sierra | Hotels in Charlotte NC

As mentioned already, you could also stay in a cheaper hotel along the city's light rail line (then simply take the train in for the game). This is a move that could save you $50 dollars at the least. The downside is that if you go uptown for the late night club/bar scene Saturday night, you will have to take the last train out of uptown at 1 am. If not, you will be catching an expensive taxi back to your room (thus losing most of the $50 you saved). IMO, you should stay uptown. It's worth the extra $$$.

If you do decide to come the day of the game, I would certainly leave no later than 8 am. Also, game day parking fees usually start at $20 anywhere uptown near the stadium. If you have more than 3 people with you, parking uptown is the cheaper option. If you have 3 people or less, parking for free at a light rail station is cheaper. A round trip ticket is $3.50 per adult; $1.75 per school aged child (under 18 years old).

If you do decide to park, just get off of the freeway at any of the uptown exits and you'll find people flagging down cars for parking. If you decide to take the train, Google your way to either Scaleybark or Woodlawn station. These two are the closest park and ride stations to uptown. There will be others at these stations doing the same as you, so they can help you purchase your ticket at the ticket vending machine. Just ask, and most folks are happy to help. FYI, game day trains into and out of uptown are usually standing room only, so expect the following...

All sizes | Mid-day Charlotte Light Rail Ridership | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ractod/3017364438/sizes/l/in/photostream/ - broken link)

^^^However, game day trains also run every 10 minutes. So if the first train is a bit too crowded for you, just wait for the next one that might be less packed.

Last edited by urbancharlotte; 08-16-2011 at 07:51 AM..
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:44 AM
Location: NC
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I went to a game last November. I stayed at the Marriot Residence Inn right across the street from the stadium. Had to pay for parking but was allowed to keep car there for the game. They were very hospitable for fans. There are many hotels downtown that are not unreasonably far to walk to game. I know people that game down that morning. I left after the game and the stadium is easily accessible to the interstates.

There are plenty of lots around that people tailgate in as well. Those lots fill up quite early. Not sure what panther fan attendance is, as the Ravens were well represented when I went (yes I am a Ravens fan

Enjoy the game!!
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:54 AM
Location: Raleigh, NC
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For a 1pm game, you could easily make it back that evening unless you're just wanting to stay the night.
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:00 AM
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Very easy day trip, if you want to do that. We leave Chapel Hill around 8:30, which gets us to the parking lot by 11. We prefer to do a little walking rather than be stuck in traffic, so we take 77 to 5th street, head towards downtown, and then park in the first parking lot on the right after you go under the railroad tracks (corner of 5th and Wilkes). Its about a 10 minute walk to the stadium from there, and a quick right turn out of the parking lot onto Trade St gets you back to the highway with minimal traffic. We'll get home around 8-8:30.
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Old 08-16-2011, 07:35 PM
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Thanks, everyone! Lots of good advice / suggestions!!
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Old 08-16-2011, 08:35 PM
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Agree with toot68. Plenty of parking within easy walking distance if you arrive by 11:30. Traffic on northbound I-85 after the game will be thick at first but thins out at Concord.
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:59 PM
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Also something that has ALWAYS worked for me is to post a message or go to the teams forum like the Panthers or whatever and you will see who is tailgating seriously and trust me they will have no problem inviting you go join. I have met so many people this way that I never fill left out when I have to go to a game alone. Try it!
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Old 10-08-2018, 09:09 AM
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Reviving old thread to see if there any new updates/reviews/recommendations.

I see Amtrak has "Panther Train", but it gets there pretty early.

Does anyone offer a package deal, with transportation from/back to the Triangle, including game tickets?
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