You see, I'm a transplant. I moved to Charlotte from New Jersey a while back and I haven't gotten a chance to take in a game at Bank of America Stadium yet. My father is a die-hard 49ers fan, so when I saw them on this year's schedule, it seemed like the perfect two-birds-with-one-stone opportunity.
I remember fondly the day I bought the tickets. I was thinking this had a chance to be a pretty good game. No one knew if the Panthers were going to win 11 games, eight games or two games -- anything was possible.
The 49ers were a lock to win the NFC West with Kurt Warner retired, Pete Carroll attempting to coach in the NFL again, and the Rams being the Rams. I remember saying, "The Panthers and 49ers may end up being bad, but it will only be Week 7, they'd have to be really awful for this game to be meaningless in Week 7."
There's no way I'm not going, though. With the advent of DIRECTV's Sunday Ticket, the Red Zone Channel, the Internet and countless other improvements to home-football viewing, actually going to a stadium has become an afterthought.
WR Steve Smith
Why would I do that when I could walk to my fridge, drink whatever I want, eat whatever I want, spill it on myself, watch any game I want in any temperature I want, wearing whatever I want all from the comfort of my own couch?
Here's why: I love everything about football. I want to know everything I can about it. If I could, I would see a game in every team's stadium to get a feel for the fan base. It's important for me to know if a fan base is smart or if they need to be prompted by a scoreboard or loud music when to be boisterous and supportive.
I saw a Steelers game in Pittsburgh last year and I wondered if the crowd was going to be as frenzied and loyal as they seem on television. They are. I saw a 49ers game at Candlestick and the fans are as smart, but laid back and as used to success as they appear on DIRECTV.
Now, I've only heard a couple of things about the Bank of America Stadium experience. I've heard that it's a wine-and-cheese crowd and there isn't a bad seat in the place. Frankly, I just don't see how anything but the most loyal diehards will be in attendance when there is only one win between the two teams.
While I'll be trying to take in as much as possible, I'll be watching a few things with special attention. Will Matt Moore succeed now that there's no pressure? How will the league's emphasis on big hits affect a defense desperate for big plays? Will Mike Singletary give the crowd what it wants and put in David Carr?
Lastly, and most importantly, will anyone else be there?
Talk about the Bank of America Stadium experience inside the message boards.
Michael Stolp is a graduate of Wilkes University with a degree in Communications. He grew up in Piscataway, N.J., and recently relocated to Charlotte, NC. To follow his personal blog, click here.