How to enjoy Carolina Panthers training camp like a pro

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It’s that time of year again: Blazing hot afternoons, getting the family together, hopping in the car, and heading to … not the beach — it’s Carolina Panthers training camp season.

Training camp begins Thursday on the campus of Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. The team is coming off a trip to the Super Bowl and interest in the Panthers has never been greater. Sixty thousand free tickets for Fan Fest Aug. 5 at Bank of America Stadium sold out within hours. (Yup, I got mine!)

So if you’re planning to go to training camp — which runs until Aug. 16 — here’s what you need to know.

How to get there

I realize there are many different ways to get to Wofford College near downtown Spartanburg. Here’s the route the Panthers suggest.

– Take I-85 South to exit 72, I-585.

– At the end of the ramp, turn left toward Spartanburg.

– I-585 becomes Pine Street into Spartanburg.

– Cross over Business I-85.

– Turn right onto Pearl Street.

– Turn left onto Edgewood Avenue.

– Follow signs and/or parking attendants. (Parking is free, and you can also park at Calvary Baptist Church at Pearl and Osage streets.)

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– There’s also a free shuttle bus for three off-campus parking lots — Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, St. John Street Parking Deck and Beaumont Mill (Saturday and Sunday only) — and two free off-campus parking lots don’t have shuttle service — grass lot across Church Street from Evins Street and Spartanburg County Administration Building (Saturday and Sunday only). They run two hours before and two hours after practice. More information here.

There is so much construction going on on campus — including the new Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium — that where you might’ve parked in the past isn’t there any more due to the expansion of athletic facilities.

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When and where to see the action

Opening night on Thursday will be held at Gibbs Stadium to hold the greatest amount of spectators.

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As training camp moves along, fans will be asked to walk past Gibbs Stadium to the practice fields located behind. This is where the remaining practice sessions will be held, and I must say, it’s very fan-friendly setup.

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The sloped grass will allow fans to set up blankets and lawn chairs as they watch practice.

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Those early enough can line the fence area and get autographs from their favorite Panthers players as they come to or come off the practice fields.

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This training camp figures to be a popular one for fans, so pack your patience along with your excitement, and let’s have a great start to the 2016 season.

Photos: Jonathan Lee

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