CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The season opener for the Carolina Panthers did not end how the team wanted, losing a close one to the Las Vegas Raiders, 34-30, Sunday afternoon.
Sunday’s game day experience is not how many Panthers' fans envision it would be either.
The restrictions laid out in Phase 2.5 for North Carolina meant uptown was a dead zone during game time. That’s not normal considering Sunday was the season opener for the Panthers.
It was hard to spot a soul outside of the bank of America Stadium during this year’s home opener.
“If you didn’t know that it was football Sunday, you probably wouldn’t know that it was football Sunday,” said Mia Byers, who was rooting for the Dallas Cowboys.
COVID-19 is the reason fans can’t do their usual run through uptown to cheer on their teams.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is still not allowing mass gatherings. This means fans can’t fill seats in the stadium, and bars that don’t serve food have to stay closed.
“A bunch of the other places aren’t open right now,” said Robert McConnell, a Houston Texans' fan.
“It’s different. We’re used to high energy, big crowds, and everyone huddled around and cheering," Byers added.
Charlotte’s South End was one of the most exciting sports spots in the city during kickoff.
Restaurants Hot Taco, Slate and the Charlotte Beer Garden all made football heaven for fans.
Every scheduled game was on each TV at these places. So, for a solid three hours, at least, fans say COVID-19 was an afterthought and they enjoyed living a moment that was normal for them.
“Our whole friend group has been waiting all summer for football season,” said Hannah Venable, a Carolina Panthers' fan.
“Football Sunday...it’s my favorite day of the week,” said Byers.
Now, fans are hoping Governor Cooper relaxes more restrictions so the next home game for the Panthers can be exactly what they’re used to in uptown Charlotte.