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  • Writer's pictureAaron S. Terry

Bank of America Stadium - Duke's Mayo Bowl

Photos by Aaron S. Terry , Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Bank of America Stadium 800 S Mint St Charlotte, NC 28202

Year Opened: 1996

Capacity: 75,412

Bowling in the Queen City

Note: The name of the Bowl changed from Belk Bowl to Duke's Mayo Bowl in 2020.

Played in the same NFL stadium that is home to the Carolina Panthers, the Belk Bowl is an annual college football postseason matchup that features a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference versus a team from the Southeastern Conference. However, while the venue is a great stadium with all the modern amenities, the game is not always well-attended, depending on which teams are invited to participate.

Food & Beverage 4

Bank of America Stadium has a decent set of concessions options, covering all the basics but without a lot that is truly unique. In addition, many of the stands are closed off during the Belk Bowl, due to the small expected attendance, but there are still more than enough options to accommodate the crowd.

Like several other NFL facilities, Bank of America Stadium recently started offering bottomless refills on popcorn and soda (about $9 each), so for less than $20 you could be taken care of for the whole game. Of course, if you want something more interesting than popcorn, other items can also be added – the best deal on that front is probably the Bojangles’ Chicken Supremes – $8 will get you a box of six, which is a pretty good deal for a pro sports venue – or the two Krispy Kreme donuts for $3.

Other food options include hot dogs, brats, burgers, chicken wings, pizza, pulled pork nachos and sandwiches, brisket, mac and cheese, soft pretzels, peanuts, and packaged candy, with prices ranging from about $4 up to $10. Note that unlike most sports stadiums, however, tax is not included, so you will pay slightly more than the price shown on the menu board. They do give a slight discount if you pay cash though, and the discount seems to vary a bit by item, as the cash prices always seem to work out to be whole dollars.

The drink selection is probably even better than the food selection – in fact, Bank of America Stadium has a whole craft beer aisle on the lower level, and even a convenience store-type concessions area, which sells snacks and all manner of refrigerated cans and bottles of beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks. I didn’t see any mixed drinks at the stadium, but besides beer, wine, and soda you can also get Gatorade, coffee, and hot cocoa – drink prices seem to run the gamut from $4 to $9.

Atmosphere 3

Bank of America Stadium can be pretty empty during the Belk Bowl depending on which ACC team is invited to play – most of the SEC teams are too far away to draw much of a crowd, and the Belk Bowl tends to take an SEC team that is pretty low in the pecking order anyway. That being the case, your best bet for a solid crowd is to get one of the local ACC teams, like maybe Duke or N. C. State – without a big crowd, the stadium just feels too empty to have much energy.

Bank of America Stadium itself is pretty stellar, being a pro venue, with all the seats being chairbacks, and huge video boards to help you see replays. In fact, the videoboards are the best part of the atmosphere – the staff at the Belk Bowl shows replays on the big board using two different angles side by side, one an overhead shot and the other close-in, which really gives you a great view of the play from both angles – I wish more stadiums did this.

Neighborhood 5

Bank of America Stadium is located right in downtown Charlotte, so there are plenty of great restaurants within walking distance – two of the most popular are Draught Restaurant & Bar and French Quarter Restaurant, which as you might expect offers Cajun cuisine. Both restaurants are only 3-4 blocks from the stadium, but there are a ton of other options as well, if you are in the mood for some other type of cuisine.

If you are going to be in town for the weekend (the Belk Bowl is played at 1 pm on a Friday), the most popular attraction in Charlotte has got to be the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which is also within walking distance of Bank of America Stadium – the Hall of Fame is the perfect attraction for the Queen City, given the presence of the Charlotte Motor Speedway nearby. And when you finish your NASCAR experience, there are several other interesting attractions to take in during your stay, such as Discovery Place Science, TransAmerica Square, or the Secret Fountain.

There are well over a dozen hotels in downtown Charlotte, just to the east of Bank of America Stadium, plus many more a little further out – two low cost options within walking distance of the stadium are the Hilton Charlotte City Center, and Hyatt Place Charlotte Downtown.

Fans 2

The fans that do attend the Belk Bowl are solid – they wear team gear and cheer pretty loudly for their team – but the stands just do not fill up in certain years. Again, it probably really depends on which ACC team gets invited; even Wake Forest doesn’t seem to draw much of a crowd, but if UNC, Duke, or N. C. State were invited, you may see a lot more energy.

Access 4

Getting to Charlotte for the Belk Bowl is really easy thanks to the small crowd size – there is very little traffic, especially around Christmas when a lot of the downtown businesses seem to be closed. You should be able to park for $15 just a few blocks from Bank of America Stadium in one of the parking garages downtown, and once you park, there shouldn’t really be any lines to get into the stadium.

The major downside with regard to access at the Belk Bowl is that all of the stairs inside Bank of America are closed, due to the small crowd, which means you have to use one of the ramps if you happen to be sitting in the cheap seats upstairs. And while walking up the ramps is better on your knees, of course, it takes a lot more time since they are so long and winding. In addition, there are only two ramps (one on each end), so depending on where you come in, you may have to walk pretty far to find one.

Return on Investment 3

Thanks again to the small crowd size, you can find tickets to the Belk Bowl very cheaply on third-party sites - face value starts around $40, but you can easily find them for half that.

That said, the experience really depends on what level of energy you are looking for – the Belk Bowl won’t have the energy of some Power 5 conference home games, like Michigan or Oklahoma, or even the energy of some of the better bowl games, simply due to the lack of fans. But, if you are just looking to watch some decent football in a hassle-free setting, the Belk Bowl could be just the ticket.

Extras 3

The décor around Bank of America Stadium is great, particularly the panther statues out front, which are even adorned with holiday wreaths for the season. The sightlines here are also great, even if you sit in the upper deck, and the seat are very comfortable, and all of them have cupholders too.

They did have a jet flyover before the most recent Belk Bowl, and each military jet was flown by a graduate from one of the participating schools.

Final Thoughts

Thanks to their conference tie-ins, the Belk Bowl will always have some decent teams playing in it, and the pro venue (Bank of American Stadium) is a far nicer facility to see a football game at than a lot of other bowl locations.

If you are in the area, this would be a great way to spend some time with family and friends during the holidays, especially if your favorite team happens to be invited to Charlotte.

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