Fans get an earlier start to Panthers home games this season

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Carolina Panthers were victorious in their first home game of the NFL season, but it is bars and business managers who say they're the ones winning this season.

It is the first time the City of Charlotte's Brunch Bill is in effect during the Panthers season.

The bill was passed this summer, allowing restaurants to sell alcohol as early as 10:00 a.m. on Sundays, rather than 12:00 p.m.

"It's huge for the state, that was a really good move," General Manager of Draught Baryn Spry said. "I don't know if we'll double, but we'll get a good percentage off of that, and the businesses around here as well, it's really going to boost the economy."

Spry says Panthers and Bills fans were lined up outside the bar's doors at 9:30 a.m., a half hour before the bar opened.

They estimate they made 500 to 600 shots by 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Meanwhile, even bars and restaurants farther from the stadium like All-American Pub in South End is reaping the benefits of the extra two hours of sales.

By 10:00 a.m. the sports bar was buzzing with Panthers fans eager for kick-off, which was still 3 hours away.

"Game days are the best, people come in ready to go and it's very exciting," Waitress Mary Catherine said.

What may also be driving more people to bars and restaurants, are the fewer tailgating spots available around the Bank of America Stadium.

Because of so much construction going on in Uptown, there are fewer spots to park and tailgate before the game.

Loyal fans noticed a much more crowded atmosphere in the first home game, and also a steeper price.

"I will say the price of parking, they probably need to work on that. It went way up," Fan Mace Boston said.

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