Home » Articles » Charlottes dismal history of Arena Football

Posted by on June 21st, 2020 in Articles | No Comments

Charlotte has been the home of various iterations of arena football. First the Charlotte Rage in 1993 which put 17k in the  Coliseum on Tyvola on its opening night but faded rapidly after that.  Then we had the Carolina Cobras briefly who transferred he from Raleigh.  Both were members of the original “Arena Football League” that started in the late 80s and actually had  a patent  on the game that expired after a period of time, but  as of two or three years go was down to four teams before disbanding a couple yrs ago.  In later years the Charlotte area also had Some teams that were members  of  smaller independent  leagues. Really the differences were insignificant between leagues except the independent leagues tended not to have the net to the left and right of goal posts which would kick the ball back into play and in reality did add a fun aspect to the game.  We had The Carolina Speed initially based in Concord before moving to the Bojangles arena and then disbanding, and then The Carolina Energy as of 2 yrs ago who like so many other sports went into hiatus because of The Covid-19 situation.  I believe the team was sold to two former Carolina Panthers who I believe  changed the name to the “Thunder” so  odds are they will have the prowess to step it up a notch hopefully and will infuse  some creativity and attention to the team next spring. I attended an Energy  game last year and I believe there were more people on the sidelines than in the stands. In The 70s and 80s Charlotte had some various outdoor minor league football teams that were  fun to watch at Memorial Stadium. Teams included  The Carolina Chargers, The Carolina Storm, The Charlotte Barons, and so on. They didn’t draw that well but absent the Panthers we had nothing else to distract us except going  down to the A&P or Park’n’Shop  and watch the produce get  hosed down on Saturday mornings and rush home and watch Fred Kirby. I think Bozo the Clown was off the air by that point but with a name like Bozo why was the moniker “..the Clown” necessary? The name of our Arena team, “the Energy “ was ironic for it lacked any. Fans would have entire sections to themselves and their very own drink vendor.  It’s a shame because Arena football is a blast, but since its not NFL we have tended to be spoiled or distracted for lack of a better word here in Charlotte. In The early 70s our whole neighborhood went down to Sharon Road for we heard it was being repaved. However, The Energy games were on Saturday night and as I sat there perusing all the empty seats I thought, why not make this more of an “event” or entertainment vs. just a football game. Its not like we know the backstory of the players or anything and attend the game just for the sake of football itself, but make it something that fun to go to. Two years ago when Boone had an arena team and Charlotte didn’t,  I saw a game on TV featuring Boones team, the “High Country Grizzlies and ironically a player on the opposing team was  Former Panther Greg Hardy playing for Richmond. However There was hardly anyone in the audience in Boone  at App State’s basketball arena. (not to mention the  arena wasn’t quite large enough to accommodate a 50 yard field and two 10 yard endzones and it looked kind of awkward but what can you do.)  I looked up who the owners of the team were and wrote both of them including some off beat promotional ideas they might consider but never heard back.  It turned out one of the owners was a professor in the App State School of Business and had my son as a student. I told my son about the unanswered letter I sent  and he casually  referenced it with the professor once and  to paraphrase him, he said the professor looked at my son with sympathy like “you poor kid”  Needless to say that franchise  faded into oblivion last year but I felt some of my ideas  might help up there in at App State cause I figured three quarters of the audience would be stoned anyway. However, no such luck. If an arena team isn’t drawing well on its own merits, who not “explore” some less conventional promotional ideas to get folks talking?  One night in spring of 2019 to a Carolina Energy game   for as of that afternoon I didn’t know we even had a team. My son saw noticed it in some charlotte online site and let me know. However when I got home I watched  3 local sportscasts just to see if they got any press and there was zero mention of it on any after watching the entire sportscasts,  , although I did learn that ECU had landed that much heralded Assistant to the Deputy Trainer from Murray State who apparently has taping skills the likes of  we have never seen in these parts before.     Anyway, if games are on Saturday nights make them something that people will enjoy going to as well as remember or consider attending again.   Some of the ideas are a bit of stretch but I guess it comes down to a choice between getting people in the seats or  seeing your investment dwindle away.


  • “Free  1984 DeLorean to   tonight’s 35,000th fan.. ( of course there wont be a 35,000th fan because seating capacity at the  arena is nowhere close  and everyone knows it.  
  • Mother in Laws Nite-   Mother in laws get in for  $1 more than normal..   “     



  * John Wilkes Booth Bobble Head Night


  • See halftime entertainment with Levi Gullett and his multi-talented Goldfish “Barry”


  *   Advertise Fly Over..   (as  star spangled banner  concludes  pipe in loud sound of  military jets  going over.  A very distinctive loud sound but instead a  have radio controlled kit plane slowly  go over field.  ..people may respond ..”what the F….”? Not to mention its an enclosed arena when they hear there will be flyover.


*    Those with Millard Fillmore like Haircut Get In Free nite  (as if anyone will know what his hair looked like)     


*.  During  the game, on the PA system ..inject  commentary or other things  or  interject “ hot mic”  comments.

*PA announcer gives away door prizes:  “fan sitting in seat 7 section 113 go to customer service desk to get  coupon for 20% off from Treadwell’s Stump Grinding, three generations  serving greater Wisconsin since  1948”

* Using PA, page this one person  like “ Bob Perkins  please call Home” , then ,  20 minutes  later “Bob Perkins  please  call your  first wife “, then 20 min later Page again “ Bob Perkins please call your  attorney” For every home game thereafter  have message for Bob Perkins to call “someone”


*promo-  William Henry Harrison Night –  “ dress up like   our 9th president  and get in for half price “.

*promo-Yak Night-  bring a Yak to game and get in for 2 dollars off ticket price”

*Pipe in  very  obviously   non organic crowd noise, that’s not generated from the crowds that’s present .

* PA announcer- Rutgers Mellish please return home immediately to unlock  your truck for your father in laws  Bowling bag is locked in the trunk


*Promo  Those that dress up as Farber bean  get in for 1 dollar off ticket

*Promo–   “Healthy Eating Habits Night”  “ first 200  fans get slice of turkey bacon”..  (and literally hand out one uncooked slice of bacon to first 100 fans.)

*PA announcer says  :   “person who parked 72 AMC Matador with license tag  76G7Z please move it”. it.” 

Another from PA:, “would person with 2015 Red Camaro with license tag “LooseLucy” please move it  immediately or it will be towed”.


*In “box seats” where there might be waiter service, have 2 waiters in Tuxedos bring cumbersome 10 ft long Pepper Mill grinder down and ask if they want pepper on their food.


*PA  announcement:     Horace Trevelino   , please meet process server at  Customer service”

* PA announcement –  “would  representative from the group on bus  from Mt. Lebanon First Baptist Church who forgot their tickets  please bring Title to  your bus  to customer Service desk “

*Door prize announced over PA “ Fan sitting in Section 118 Row B  Seat 7 :” You have won  prosthetic leg brought to you by Union County  Prosthetics”    Serving the  Piedmont since 1972,.. Union County Prosthetics, were here to lend you a hand”

*Have PA announcer arguing with wife on cell  not knowing mic is hot


*As the team comes out on field, instead of some upbeat “jock jams” to get the crowd  and team pumped, pipe in

Gilbert “Sullivan’s  “Alone Again Naturally song; or the Theme to “Platoon”; or, Don Mcleans  Vincent”(Starry Starry Night)


*      PA announcement –  “Louis Piscone  your wife  called and said your cell isn’t picking up. She said your anti fungal cream is ready to be  picked up Rite Aid”  


* Pa announcement -:  “Dontrell Hovis,  Dontrell Hovis  -please go home and let the dog out “   


  * ..     Have 3 mascots manufactured   one well done    ,   and one thats simply awful and  blatantly cheaply made .. go to intersections around town and hold up signs announcing games.. go to events like alive after 5 or festivals  etc  and  hand oout coupons that if presented at game will cost them $1 more to get in..  or coupon  for  free large fries from concession stand with purchase of $300. or more.”.    One of the mascots shows up at every charlotte event but devise mechanism where it projects out pea soap  10 ft  every 20  min.. but create winding up sound so it gives folks warning ..get folks talking that this “one mascot from some arena team  vomited all over my friend”, and once the winding sound begins everyone scatters. .


* Have radio ad that sounds like one of the pharmaceutical ads that’s spends last 30 seconds giving really quickly read disclaimer  like “attending game may cause  nausea,  dizziness violent right angle diarrhea,  sudden decapitation syndrome,  fatigue, intense boredom, etc”   but read so quickly people go  ‘What was that? What he just say?”  “  


*At timeouts and halftimes   have car dealership spend $ for promo  that  if they kick 40 yard field goal  they will win Hyundai Genesis, but  as contestants  “randomly” picked ,  get 80 yr old man,  an elderly woman with walker , and 6 yr old girl as your “random participants”


 *Along same line put car in endzone  and give 5 participants chance to win car if they throw football  50 yards in sunroof  but only open sun roof  about 8 inches making it impossible for that to happen and everyone knows it.


*Have 2 guys dressed as a baseball coach and player come on to field  and argue  with a ref,   even though a football game.  The MGR starts kicking dirt onto refs shoes and player restrains him etc   i.e. Billy Martin


*“Get say 8  mannequins & put together  in  isolated part of upper deck  but  get amp & have sound come from them with really loud cheering..and even trash talking.

*PA announcement-  “Will Harley Bascomb   go to Customer service desk and pick up your Prize of 15 Lbs. of Great Northern Beans”


*Get a high school band  but do  practice at least once, where half way thru a choreographed  marching “song,” half  of the marching band  start playing a different song from other half  and the choreography gets all messed up, bump into each other and some  face wall and cant go farther but keep marching.

PA announcement  “Anyone with Kidney to spare, must be blood type AB positive, please go to tunnel at section 117.

Matching donor  will receive  Free large fries, and a delicious   funnel cake,  limit  2 per  family,   ”

PA  Announcement: Would the  fan that brought the incontinent  rhesus monkey to the game please come retrieve it at customer service desk.


Thurston Howell III  night –  those that dress up as Thurston Howell III  from Gilligan’s island get 1 dollar off ticket

*once a game blast very loudly that T rex sound like from Jurassic park   freaking people out


*To get word out there about the existence of a team there’s  services  in charlotte that   divides charlotte up into different geographical  sections and delivers flyers for about $325 for each area, at least it was several years ago.   Create flyers but have coupon for discount off ticket   but create profile for your players a roster with pictures and back stories off all the players.   If the fans start to know who the players are, they may relate to team better, hence the problem minor league baseball faces. In the Minor leagues  players tend to be more transient and it’s hard for fans to get to know the players.  Give run down of their story,   history,  their family  etc. and embellish a lot of it, at least with non actual players .   Throw in  some players  that don’t exist  and take some liberty’s  with some pics like  a shot that only half his head is visible in pic, some out of focus, one pic where the player is 50 yards away from camera,  some that are photoshopped that make some do double take such as enlarged forehead or features resembling that of loggerhead turtle or make someone think that our  tight end sure looks like lot like Jeffrey Dahmer.   One players  pic  where its simply a  closeup of his 6 pack abs. Another is Edgar Allen Poe but in football uniform. Again,  just  get folks talking.  Give profiles and backstories such as one player once played for The Folsom State football team, another one has had Turf Toe 22 times,  and another up and coming Cornerback who claims that he has belched in all 50 states”.  Just get folks talking  and now aware there’s something to do on Saturday night  other than hanging out at the Dixie Electric Company, The Roxy,  The Pterodactyl Club , or the Fogcutter. (I haven’t been out in a while)         “  


*Announce attendance during 3rd quarter  as double what the arena even will even accommodate.


*Put in non roster player  but dressed out but  before ball is hiked , have 2  clowns  burst onto field and chase that one        player all around and all 3  run off field  with clown in tow never to be seen from again.


* Promos-   Free Emery board night

*Promos      Free  Ford Focus to 30,000th  Fan.. wont happen because arena wont accommodate that many.

*Door Prize   announced by  P.A.  “fan in seat 18, section 117, receives 3 for 1 coupon from Pleasant Mountain Funeral Home  ,Mausoleum, and Crematory …. Where Freshness is  just a Slogan”, volume discounts available .Pick up at customer service desk.”


Door Prize – fan sitting in seat 19, section 102, come to  customer service desk and receive your free hip pointer

*Promos- “ at halftime of this weeks Charlotte arena  football game  see   world famous aviary specialist Marty  Rollins and his renowned  pet Myna Bird    “Horace”  who can name the capitals of 90% of all Baltic area countries and will dazzle you with his  endless anecdotes about Psoriasis  and his experiences with “that not so fresh feeling”  that’ll leave you in stiches.                  

     *   PromosCome to game Saturday and see at halftime fresh off his sold out tour of Peru , “Steuben the Clown and his pal Oinky” who can do over 100   amazing tricks with crock pot  and can do 19 tricks with a colostomy bag.  You’ll walk away breathless!”


 *”free DVD  to the 100th fan :  one free copy  of  timeless movie  Mr Magloriums Wonder Emporium     


*free 8×10 head shot of Gustavo Fring to  first 100 customers

*blast out once from PA  at triple the normal volume “WE HAVE THE MEATS” from the arbys voice in ad.


*At Hornets basketball game last year I noticed they cut to the  big screen a lot  to cheerleaders looking at camera and clapping..got weird after the first  15 times..  This would have to be filmed ahead of time  but do as the Hornets do by cutting to the cheerleaders frequently  who are awaiting the camera to cut to them and they do their bit  but every other time they cut to cheerleaders, they just don’t look quite  as good in subtle ways  as they did in previous cutaways..  Sort of  Similar to that Seinfeld episode where  one of Jerry dates looks great in one light and not in others..

  On the times they don’t look quite as good, make subtle changes such as terrible or no makeup, enlarged forehead, even a guy as one of the cheerleaders, one in background that almost “werewolfish” but the  shot is so brief someone says to his friend..”did you see that?”  he replies, “see what?”   One time cut to them as if the cheerleaders aren’t expecting a live camera  and you see one buying a bag of dope, or every single one is their cell,(a real stretch)  .. another time they are cat fighting amongst themselves and an effigy of one of them goes flying thru the air. . Then, when they see camera is live they scramble and gain composure and do their cheerleading schtick.


These are just ideas and not great ones but surely marketing pros can come up with some offbeat ideas that will garner attention and get folks in the seats. As I said it should be more than just a football game. You may lose your dignity but it beats insolvency.


Interim Asst.  to Cameron Yards Turfmaster.

“-B. Wright   bw (AT) cadcamrecruiters (.com)


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