Charlotte Relocation Guide

VOL2 ISS1 2018

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Page 53 of 83

THE ORIGINAL RELOCATION GUIDE — CHARLOTTE | VOLUME 2 — ISSUE 1 52 SPORTS SCENE Charlotte Sports Scene BY SERENA STEVENS tradition, legendary, plenty of action The "Queen City" of Charlotte, North Carolina, has a rich and varied sports tradition that spans roughly 125 years. Once upon a time, the Charlotte Hornets were a baseball team, the Carolina Cougars the local pro basketball team, and NASCAR was an obscure motorsport still in its infancy. Today, Charlotte has all the bases covered if you are a sports fan. Well-known professional sports teams include the NFL's Charlotte Panthers, the NBA's Char- lotte Hornets, and the Charlotte Knights, triple-A minor league baseball team. Nearby Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the great NASCAR superspeedways and plays host to some of the circuit's biggest races and legendary drivers. Local college sports teams also bring plenty of action to courts and playing fields on weekends provid- ing plenty to cheer for. It all started with the Great American Pastime of base- ball in 1892. The Charlotte Hornets first competed in the historic South Atlantic League. The team played under various names and in various leagues until 1972. Char- lotte residents were without a team to root for until 1976 when the Charlotte O's came to town, which created an almost cult-like following. There were many great players that came through the O's organization, then later the current team, the Char- lotte Knights. These include Cal Ripken, Jr., Eddie Mur- ray, Rick Dempsey, Jose Canseco, Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, and Jim Thome. The Charlotte Knights are now a triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox and play home games at BB&T Ballpark in downtown Charlotte. NASCAR has also long been in the driver's seat as far as Charlotte-area sporting events. Located in the nearby suburb of Concord, the Charlotte Motor Speedway is an iconic, historic track in the sport of auto racing and is considered NASCAR's home track. The complex plays host to prestigious races like the Coca-Cola 600, the NAS- CAR All-Star Race and the Bank of America 500. Originally built in 1959, the track was the first super- speedway to host night racing in 1992 and remained that way until Daytona International Speedway followed suit in 1998. Racing greats like Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Jeff Gordon, Bobby Allison, Darrel Waltrip, and Cale Yarborough have swapped paint through the years espe- cially through the speedway's notorious Turn 4. As far as pro basketball, the NBA's Charlotte Hornets have long graced the Queen City's main court. The team was formed in 1988 as an NBA expansion team and it played its games in the Charlotte Coliseum, which at the time was the largest arena in the NBA. The Hornets had a successful run and led the league in attendance for seven years until team owners decided to sell-out and moved the team to New Orleans in 2002. In 2004, the NBA established the Charlotte Bobcats and pro basketball was back in business in Charlotte. Ultimately in 2014, the team in New Orleans dropped the Hornets name and the Charlotte Hornets were reborn. Today, North Carolina's favorite basketball son, Michael Jordan, owns the team. And last but not least as far as major pro sports teams in Charlotte are the NFL's Carolina Panthers. The Pan- thers played their first pro football season in 1995 at Clemson University's Memorial Stadium until their new home in downtown Charlotte was built. Today, the Panthers huddle up in Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers reached the Super Bowl in 2003 before barely losing to the New England Patriots in one of the best NFL Championship Games in history. The Panthers made it to the Super Bowl again in 2016 under the leadership of current head coach Ron Rivera. For some great NCAA action on the Charlotte area's sports fields, check out the local colleges and universities. Charlotte University has always courted a competitive men's basketball team, even making it to the NCAA Final Four in 1997. The school added a football team in 2013 and has been seeing large crowds and immediate success. The 49ers currently do battle in Conference USA and are coached by Brad Lambert. Other schools in the area to provide some great sports action include Winthrop University, Johnson C. Smith, and Davidson College, which is the alma mater of the NBA player Stephen Curry. []

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