The Carolina Panthers are hitting the road early next so as to avoid the chaos of the Democratic Convention coming to town.
Final preparations are already underway at Bank of America Stadium, where President Obama will deliver his speech on Sept. 6 formally accepting his party nomination for re-election.
Things figure to be more than a little chaotic, with generators being moved into place, wires strung everywhere and heavy volumes of security roaming every part of the facility.
All this would be going on while the Panthers are trying to prepare for their season opener at Tampa Bay on Sept. 9.
The obvious potential logistical nightmare is the reason the team has opted to head to Florida early, departing Tuesday to spend the next three days practicing at the IMG Academy in Bradenton before heading to Tampa for the game.
“When we were talking about this in February, I don’t think we knew what it would be like if we stayed here,” general manager Marty Hurney told the Charlotte Observer. “From the football side, some of the things you worry the most about are the unknowns.
“We felt like going [to Florida], we could go to someplace we know and we’d know the set-up, whereas we wouldn’t know what it would be like here.”
Hurney, coach Ron Rivera, equipment manager Jackie Miles, trainer Ryan Vermillion and head of football operations Brandon Beane mapped out a plan to make the trip as similar to any other road game during the season.
The IMG Academy offers plenty of practice space, as well as a spacious weight room to use. The Panthers will be based in a nearby hotel with ample meeting space to accommodate the various position meetings that normally take place for a home game.
Team owner Jerry Richardson donated the use of Bank of America Stadium at no charge to the Democratic Convention and has said he would have done likewise for the Republican Party.
Players sounded initially excited about the break from routine.