As their annual training camp at Wofford winds down, Chris Jennings, executive vice president of the Spartanburg Convention & Visitors Bureau can’t help to be a little giddy.
“This is our big event of the year and it will last as long as the Panthers do,” Jennings said. “Last year, it went through February and it is also great to see two Carolinas come together.”
With just a few days left of training camp, Jennings said there have already been more than 100,000 visitors to the camp and he even had comparisons to different professional and college sports venues to put it in perspective.
In a release sent to media outlets, Jennings suggested the only sports venue in the country that could hold the number of fans that have seen the Panthers’ training camp this summer was the football stadium at the University of Michigan which has a capacity of 107,601. He added that football stadiums at Penn State, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee could not hold the 107,518 fans that have seen the Panthers at Wofford this summer.
“We aren’t even done yet,” Jennings said. “This was a perfect storm. Offense has a star and defense has a star and they are coming off a Super Bowl appearance.
“Wofford has made the experience for the fans amazing and we are riding a great surf right now.”
He said the interaction between the Panthers and the city has seemingly been increased over previous years. All of which, he said, is helping Spartanburg businesses.
“For the first time in my seven years here, I am hearing all kinds of businesses really noticing the volume and part of that is actually a blessing of the construction at Wofford and having people shuttled in,” Jennings said. “People are going to the mall, catching a movie after practice and businesses are really seeing an uptick.”
Additionally, the Panthers themselves are spending time in the community and in local businesses, which Jennings said is a huge boost for business.
“I have seen, through social media, more interaction between the players and the fans,” Jennings said. “Players have been to our local establishments and they practice with the Spartanburg High School Vikings … this is a dream come true.”