Panthers team president Danny Morrison said he's sensitive toward fan complaints about ticket price hikes, though he defended the team's decision Monday as part of an extensive interview.
We'll have more of the football-related portions of his interview in tomorrow's paper, but there was a lot to go through during the 45-minute session — which took place precisely six months from his first day on the job with the team.
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When asked about the Panthers ticket-price increase (their eighth in 11 years), he pointed out that the average cost is still in the bottom half of the league, while the other two teams with privately operated stadiums (New England and Washington) are in the top five. He said the Panthers spend approximately $20 million per year to run the stadium, costs which other clubs don’t have.
He mentioned the fact the Panthers have spent $30 million total making improvements to the stadium (which opened in 1996) with another $1 million worth of renovations and additions this year, mostly for upgrades to the concession stands and televisions throughout the building.
“Any time looking at what going to do from a ticket increase standpoint, you take that very seriously; especially since we’ve had such a good tradition here of great fan support,” Morrison said. “In a competitive world, I guess everybody would like ticket prices or any other prices to never go up. But I think we’ve looked at our ticket pricing responsibly, we’re in the lower half of the league, and we haven’t gone up every year. Some would argue, why didn’t you go up after a 12-4 season last year?”
Morrison touched on a number of other topics Monday, including:
— He’s been impressed with the schedule that Jerry Richardson maintains. The 73-year-old owner has kept a low profile since having heart transplant surgery nearly 14 months ago, but maintains a prestigious position within the league.
“He’s been engaged from day one since I’ve been here,” Morrison said. “All I know is that I’ve seen him engaged and he’s not only attuned to all that’s going on on the Panthers side, but he’s so active in NFL matters as well. It just speaks to his trust and respect that he has within the NFL, that’s what’s just so obvious. ... They trust him, they know he’s going to do what he says he’s going to do. And I think seeing him energizes the meetings. ...
“To be the new kid on the block, and to watch that all unfold, it’s clearly obvious how much respect and trust they have in Mr. Richardson.”
— He said he’s been encouraged by talks toward new sponsorship deals in the soft-drink and automotive category. The Panthers lacked an automotive sponsor last year. “We feel good we’re making some progress there,” he said.