Mac’s Speed Shop featured on WCNC

Mike Hanson, WCNC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Anticipation is building around Charlotte for Saturday’s NFL Playoff game between the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals.

At Bank of America Stadium Wednesday, a small team of workers were installing five truckloads of fresh sod brought in from south Georgia. The 49 foot strip will replace the middle of the field, and stretch goal line to goal line. The sod rolls out like carpet and then is patted into place.

Head groundskeeper Tom Vaughan is in his 17th year with the team. He has done this before, but never with this short of a turnaround. Getting it right for a playoff game is something he and his team take pride in, knowing a national audience will see the work they do.

“Well, I think it is special for the entire organization. I know it’s great for us. We really enjoy this part of the job. It’s more work, but no one really cares,” Vaughan said. “I enjoy my job. I have a really good crew. They’re all very professional about it, so yeah, I enjoy every aspect of it.”

Inside the Panther’s official team store, lifelong, diehard fan Adrian Hunter tried on his new South Division championship shirt. Adrian chose a large, and expressed his confidence in his team.

“They give it their all every day in practice, and everyday in the film room, and then on Sundays. They’ve had a lot of chances where this year they could’ve just given up, but they didn’t. They fought and said we’re still in it to win it. They’ll take it one game at a time, one day at a time,” Hunter said.

The store management says sales online and in the store have been exceptional. They credit the fact that no one has ever won the Division back-to-back, since realignment in 2002.

In Charlotte’s South End Tammy Klein’s iPhone has been ringing, and beeping with business.

“Since they won, we’ve been getting phone calls regularly,” Klein said.

Klein is in charge of catering for Mac’s Speedshop. The barbecue restaurant specializes in tailgating. Having a bonus Carolina Panther home game right after a successful Belk Bowl Championship will drive up orders 20 percent on Saturday. Klein believes that’s a lot of food.

“You know when you have 200, 300 people to feed, that’s when we go ahead and bring on the mobile smoker. We’ll bring our staff, and we can feed the masses.” Klein then adds, “It’s a great way to start out the New Year. This is a surprise for everybody. It’s just an amazing season so far, you know, all of a sudden… boom, we’re in it.”

Macs Speedshop says a majority of fans will tailgate up to four hours before kickoff. That means most lots will be fun starting at noon. Kickoff for Saturday’s Playoff game is 4:30 p.m.

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