With the Democratic National Convention converging on Charlotte, the Carolina Panthers needed a training site to finalize preparation for their opening game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Enter IMG Academy.
The Panthers have announced that they will train at IMG Academy in advance of their Sept. 9 game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. From Panthers.com:
"We researched places on the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast in anticipation of the 2012 schedule release," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. "After the opener at Tampa Bay was announced, we scouted a few places in the Tampa area, and IMG made the most sense. The facility offers the privacy and infrastructure that we need to prepare for the season opener."
Quarterback Cam Newton is among the players already quite familiar with the facility. He trained at the IMG Academy football program before and after the Panthers selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
"IMG is a great venue and it will offer us everything we need in our preparation for Tampa Bay," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "We could have stayed here in Charlotte, but we see this as a great opportunity to get away, continue to bond as a team and focus on the opener."
Cam Newton isn't the only Panther who is familiar with IMG Academy. Luke Kuechly, Carolina's No. 1 overall pick (No. 9 overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft, did his pre-draft training at IMG. The Panthers this offseason also signed free agent wide receive Chris Manno, who has spent significant time at IMG for the past two years.
It won't be the first time IMG has hosted a large football function. The campus also played host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NFLPA Rookie Symposium during the lockout last year.