The Charlotte Knights are a triple A rated farm team for the major league team the Cleveland Indians. Knights Stadium is a little ways south of Uptown Charlotte in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Unlike major league baseball and NFL football, the Knights cater more to families than to swells who only care about being seen. The Charlotte Knights are reminiscent of the "Alabama" song called "Cheap Seats". Mark and I thought we would have to be content with a distant shot of the stadium, but we found a back way inn and climbed up a flight of rickety wooden steps underneath the scoreboard and got a choice shot. Was it illegal? Technically yes. However, the worst thing that could have been done was to scurry us off without this closeup photo.
Equipment: Perhaps you might want to bring a good catcher's mit for errant foul balls which make the stands.
UNCC Athletic Programmes
UNCC is most known for its basketball team, but there are other sports like track and field, baseball, soccer, and tennis. Even among native Charlotteans, the UNCC basketball team takes a back seat to Duke or the University of North Carolina, depending on whom you talk to.
At one time, the Charlotte Hornets basketball team played from here. The Arena Football League team from the area, the Carolina Cobras, play here now since the owners of the Hornets, in a huff, moved the team to New Orleans.
Ice Skating Rink @ Eastland Mall
I have never seen an ice skating rink in a mall and would never expect to see one this far south. Eastland Mall, in Charlotte, on a fairly warm (78-degree Fahrenheit, 25 Celsius) spring day, the rink was full.
Equipment: A good pair of ice skates and pride which is not easily wounded.
Charlotte Bobcats, the NBA is back!!
Charlotte's newest arena was built recently for the Bobcats, the professional basketball team. It's located right in the heart of Uptown as you can see from this picture with the Bank of America Tower in the background. The positioning of the athletic venues in the downtown area along with new upscale condominiums that are springing up are starting to make living in the city a more viable option for many locals.
The team plays in the Southeast Division of the NBA's Eastern Conference and currently has a young team that includes players such as Adam Morrison, Emeka Okafor and Gerald Wallace.
See the website below for a team schedule and ticket information.
The Dog House
Before the Panthers games, head on over to The Dog House for one of the better pre-game parties in town. Just walk under the bridge (follow Mint St.) from the stadium and you'll run right into it. WFNZ radio (the market's biggest sports talk station) broadcast here on Sunday mornings and there's live music out back and beer inside.
Ericsson Stadium has been home to the Carolina Panthers (American) football team since 1996. Their first season (in 1995) was played in Clemson, South Carolina. Overall, they are a fair to middling team. They first made the playoffs during the 1996 season. They were bloody awful in 2001, but two years later, they won the NFC championship and were in Super Bowl 38. Most seasons are somewhere in between. The Carolina Panthers is my favourite team in good times and bad, so I'm true (teal) blue to them at all times.
The Big "I"
Officially named the Cricket Arena, it is located on Independence Avenue. Thus, it is called the Big "I". You may have noticed that many professional sports venues have become opportunities for businessmen to wine, dine and cajole prospective clients with those expensive sky boxes. However, at the Big "I", you will see more families turning out to see the Charlotte Checkers hockey team.
Minor League Hockey
The Charlotte Checkers play at Cricket Arena (pictured here). An evening at a Checkers game is a great and affordable way to entertain a family. Most of the crowd is made up of young people all enjoying the game, hoping for a brawl on the ice and generally having a great time. Tickets are cheap and the action is fast and furious.
Go see the Panthers play
The hometown Carolina Panthers play at the world-class Bank of America Stadium (formerly Ericsson Stadium). This National Football League team made the Super Bowl in 2004, narrowly losing to the New England Patriots 32-29. It was only their second winning season in franchise history, but nevertheless was impressive for such a young team. Personally, I'm a Minnesota Vikings fan. If you've never been to an NFL game, this is a great stadium, although the ownership is way too conservative and the environment is not as good as many other NFL teams' stadiums around the league. Men can't take their shirts off and the insane behavior that you see in Green Bay, Oakland or Kansas City, is not tolerated at the stadium. Unfortunately, it seems like the Panthers organization thinks the NFL stands for "No Fun League."
The Charlotte Eagles
The Charlotte Eagles are an A-League (like Triple A baseball) professional soccer team. I'm fortunate enough to be friends with a number of the players so you have to root for these great guys!
They play their games at various local stadiums so check their website for details. They are the farm club for the MLS's Colorado franchise and every year they play some exhibition matches against a couple MLS squads.
Charlotte's AAA baseball team is called the Knights. Technically, they play just across the border in South Carolina, but Knights Castle (their ballpark) is only 20 minutes south of downtown Charlotte on I-77. The Knights provide a great family atmosphere are tickets are very reasonably priced.
Charlotte is one of the major hubs of Nascar. More of the drivers live in the Charlotte area than anywhere else and Lowe's Motor Speedway (20 minutes from downtown) is one of the largest racetracks in the country. I've been to a couple races and unfortunately it's not the sport for me. To me, it's one long left turn, but some people are addicted to the sport. In fact, on race day there are roughly 200,000 fans packed into Concord where the track is located. Cars and campers surround the track for miles and the one day event usually turns into a three day party.
If you'd like to visit the Speedway on a non-race day, just drive toward the front side where the main gift shop and visitor's center is located. You can go through Gate 5B and get into the grandstands for free!
Hit the slopes
For the skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, North Carolina has a lot to offer. From Charlotte, you can be flying down a snow-covered mountain in around 2 1/2 hours, but if you're a serious skiier, you might want to drive about 4 hours north to the slopes of West Virginia. Here's a picture of me preparing to fall down a lot at Appalachian Ski Mountain in North Carolina.
Charlotte has a plethora of golf courses to choose from. You'll find a listing of public course on the website below.
Fortunately for me, my best friend is a golf pro at a private club, so I get to play for free!
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