With the Democratic National Convention being held in Charlotte, N.C., from September 3-6, the Carolina Panthers announced that they will prepare for their regular-season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to give the keynote speech at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 6. With the number of people descending upon Charlotte and the increased security around the team's facilities potentially disrupting the team's preparations for Week 1, the Panthers had requested a road game to open the season and had been researching potential temporary venues before the schedule was released in April.
"We researched places on the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast in anticipation of the 2012 schedule release," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. "After the opener at Tampa Bay was announced, we scouted a few places in the Tampa area, and IMG made the most sense. The facility offers the privacy and infrastructure that we need to prepare for the season opener."
Former Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke is the Director of the IMG Madden Football Academy, which is located an hour south of Tampa. Current Panthers Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly trained at the facility before the last two drafts.
The NFL had already decided to schedule the first game of the season, which is typically played on a Thursday, for Wednesday, Sept. 5, so as not to interfere with Obama's speech.