Major Moments in Charlotte's Sports History: A Timeline


June 19, 1960: Charlotte Motor Speedway opens with its first major race, the World 600.

March 19, 1977: UNC Charlotte stuns top-ranked Michigan to advance to the Final Four. The 49ers would lose in the final seconds to Marquette the next weekend.

March 16, 1985: Crockett Park, which opened in 1941 as Griffith Park, burns to the ground. Charlotte’s minor-league baseball teams played in a makeshift park for the next three years before moving to Fort Mill in 1989.

November 4, 1988: The Charlotte Hornets play their first game. The result— a 133-93 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers—is insignificant. The mere presence of pro sports in the city creates such a stir that the Hornets sell out 364 consecutive home games, a streak that runs until 1997.

October 26, 1993: NFL owners unanimously pick Charlotte and the Carolinas for their first expansion team since 1976, prompting the city to set off fireworks over uptown.

April 2-4, 1994: Charlotte hosts the NCAA men’s Final Four at the old Charlotte Coliseum on Tyvola Road. The city sets up a temporary entertainment zone uptown, bringing restaurants and clubs to a part of the city that, at the time, was usually desolate at 5:30. “But in this prosperous citadel of gleeful sprawl, where the booster gene is the dominant biological strain, the effort has a familiar ring,” The New York Times writes. Duke and Arkansas advance to the final, with the Razorbacks winning the title 76-72.

September 3, 1995: The Panthers play their first game, losing 23-20 in overtime to Atlanta. Their first win would come a month later, on October 15, when Sam Mills returned an interception for a touchdown in a victory over the Jets.

May 10, 2002: NBA owners approved Hornets owner George Shinn’s proposal to move the team to New Orleans.

May 11, 2003: David Toms records a wild quadruple bogey on the last hole, but still wins the inaugural Wachovia Championship (later renamed the Wells Fargo Championship).

February 1, 2004: The Panthers participate in their first Super Bowl, losing to the Patriots, 32-29, on a last-second field goal.

November 4, 2004: The NBA returns to Charlotte with an expansion franchise, only the team’s nickname is the Bobcats. They lose to Washington 103-96 on opening night.

March 6, 2006: NASCAR announces Charlotte as the future home of the sport’s hall of fame. The building will open four years later.

April 11, 2014: The Charlotte Knights officially open their new stadium, BB&T Ballpark, in Third Ward. The team eclipses its previous attendance record by early July, and draws more fans per game than any other team in minor league baseball in 2014 and 2015.

May 20, 2014: The Charlotte Bobcats officially become the Charlotte Hornets again in a name change that was approved a year earlier.

January 24, 2016: The Panthers crush the Cardinals, 49-15, to advance to their second Super Bowl. It’s the crowning moment in one of the best seasons in NFL history, in which the team finished the regular season 15-1. Carolina would lose to the Broncos in the Super Bowl two weeks later.