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Phase 1 of Panthers stadium renovation almost done

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Phase 1 of Panthers stadium renovation almost done
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The Panthers are putting the final touches on phase one of a $125 million stadium renovation project.

Panthers director of stadium operations Scott Paul led a media tour Wednesday showing off the stadium's two new larger video boards, two new ribbon boards, an improved sound system and four new escalators to transport fans to the upper levels.

Paul said the first phase of the project is about ''95-percent complete'' and should be completed before the team's Fan Fest on July 25.

Phase one of the project came in right on budget at $65 million. The remaining two phases of the renovation project will be completed over the next two years.

''The goal of phase one of renovation was all about the fan experience,'' Paul said. ''We wanted to improve the fan experience and we think we've done that.''

Two new 63-foot high, 212-foot long high-definition video boards located above each end zone are the most notable upgrades. They are 2 1/2 times the size of the original video boards. The boards will feature areas for live video coverage, replays, game information and statistics.

Workers also installed two new 5-foot high ribbon boards that encircle the entire bowl at the club level and designed to include updated stats and social media.

The team also is putting the final touches on four new bays with escalators to take fans to the 300 and 500 level seats.

The escalators were a priority for owner Jerry Richardson. He wanted his aging permanent seat license owners - many of whom where 45 or 50 when the stadium was constructed 20 years ago - to have access to the upper decks without having to climb stairs.

The new high-efficiency, high-octave sound system is nearly complete. In the past, the sound was pumped from one end of the stadium to the other. Paul said everyone will be less than 100 feet from a sound system.

''It will sound dramatically better,'' Paul said.

Paul said one of the priorities is giving fans something they can't get at home while watching the game on television.

''That is one of the challenges that every team faces right now - the experience they get at home,'' Paul said. ''That's why these experiences we are trying to create for fans in the bowl are so important. We want to replicate what they get at home as best as possible. These video boards will do that.''

Among some of the minor changes, flag poles representing all 32 NFL teams have been added around the top of the stadium. The Panthers have also moved the names of the Hall of Honor recipients to the top of the stadium to make room for the ribbon boards on the club level.

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