Who's got the BEAT?

About two months ago,  I was pleased to see it announced that the 2011 edition of NightBEAT, Carolina Crown's home show and now a DCI Tour of Champions event, would be returning to American Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte. Memorial Stadium is nearly three times as large as Rock Hill District 3 Stadium, which has been NightBEAT's home for the past two seasons. With the drum corps firepower that comes with a being a Tour of Champions event, the additional room is certainly needed, which is why I was surprised to learn about a month ago that the show would be returning to Rock Hill after all. The first moral of this story is get your tickets now, because this event WILL sell out, but what I'm led to wonder is, how could this have been done differently?

First, I must point out that I mean in no way to imply that Carolina Crown and Drum Corps International didn't give this their due diligence and that what we've got before us was the best option for all parties involved. Me? I'm just a blogger spending other folks' money and playing fantasy drum corps in a vacuum. I don't have to worry about pesky things like fiscal responsibility, scheduling, housing, access, or any of the other issues with which the real planners were faced. Of the options I mention that aren't financially prohibitive, many are college stadiums which may be hosting summer practices or prepping their fields for the upcoming seasons. BUT, if none of these were an obstacle, here are some possibilities:

My halfway-joking-but-not-really request for this show, especially once it became a Tour of Champions event, has always been Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers. To the folks shaking their heads thinking, "drum corps in an NFL stadium? Get real!" this wouldn't be the only one on the tour. In addition to World Championships in Lucas Oil Stadium, INVESCO Field at Mile High, the Georgia Dome, and the new Meadowlands Stadium all host DCI competitions. BofA has tremendous upside. It is in Charlotte, which means that all sponsorships in the Charlotte metro area can remain intact. Being in the home of the Panthers lends instant credibility to the event. Fans could enjoy NFL amenities like chairback seats. Crown and DCI could even get fancy and work something with the club level or luxury boxes. And while this wasn't a piece of the puzzle at the time, the potentially impending NFL lockout could mean that they are accepting all offers as questions arise about how they will fill the stadium. Still, while I expect that DCI--with the success of the Tour of Champions as a priority--is assisting some of the local shows in this first year, it's probably the case that BofA Stadium is out of reach.

Clearly remaining in the Charlotte area is the most advantageous. Charlotte metro is centrally located, the biggest metro area in the Carolinas, home to Crown themselves, and remaining in the area would be doing a solid to the fans and sponsors who have supported NightBEAT this far. Surprisingly though, for a metro area its size, Charlotte has a dearth of large stadiums, with Bank of America and Memorial being the only clear choices. So while a move out of the area would have to have a tremendous upside, the Triangle, the Triad, the Mountains, and the Columbia area are additional possibilities.

The Triad, of course, is most attractive to me as a Greensboro resident. A few college stadiums make sense here in the Triad. Bowman Gray Stadium, home to the Winston Salem State Rams as well as a NASCAR weekly series, has hosted marching activity before, including drum corps and the Battle of the Bands that takes place during the WSSU-A&T rivalry weekend. Speaking of their rival Aggies, Aggie Stadium here in Greensboro could serve as a potential host as well. Wake Forest University's BB&T Field could work, and as a less-ideal choice, Macpherson Stadium, home of the Carolina Dynamo soccer club here in Greensboro, while smaller than the previous stadiums, has the benefit of all the seats being on the concert side.

The Triangle has no shortage of college stadiums either. Carter-Finley, Kenan, and Wallace Wade Stadiums, home to NC State, UNC, and Duke, respectively, and as the next largest metro area, the Triangle could be an attractive choice. As an eastern outlier, ECU's Dowdy-Ficken Stadium could serve as a venue as well.

There are options in the western part of both states as well. In WNC, there are Western Carolina and Appalachian State, while the SC Upstate includes Furman, Wofford, and Clemson. Again, the impending lockout could free up Wofford's field, which is used as a preseason practice home for the Panthers. Finally, South Carolina is home to Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia and SC State's Oliver Dawson Stadium down in Orangeburg.

So there you have it; potentially viable venues in the Carolinas. That said, regardless of where Crown puts NightBEAT or their other shows, I intend to be there. Here's hoping that as many people as will fit will join me!