Fans not locked out of BOA Stadium

The NFL still is in a lockout and that may or may not change before the draft. But Bank of America Stadium is going to be throwing open its doors before -- or at least as early -- as any NFL stadium.

The Carolina Panthers just announced they’re going all out for this year’s draft, which is fitting since they hold the No. 1 overall pick. They’re inviting their fans to be at the stadium when they pick. In fact, they’re inviting them to be there several hours early. They’re calling the event “The Carolina Panthers Primetime Draft Party’’.

On April 28, gates will open at 5:30 p.m. and fans can stay in the stadium until 10 p.m. There is no admission charge and concession stands will be open for fans to buy food and beverages. The draft officially starts at 8 p.m. and the Panthers should turn in their pick by 8:15.

The first round of the draft will be shown on large-screen televisions outside the stadium in Lot 4 (Morhead Street) and inside on the stadium Jumbotrons. There also will be tours of areas of the stadium not typically open to the public and that will include the locker room. There also will be a “kids’ combine," in which children will have opportunities to kick field goals and participate in other football drills and contests.

After the Panthers make their selection, country-recording artists Jason Michael Carroll, a North Carolina native, will perform a concert at the South Gate.