On October 26, 1993, NFL owners unanimously selected Carolina as the 29th NFL franchise. They also became the first expansion team since 1976. The event was joyous, and was capped by fireworks exploding over Charlotte in front of happy fans.
Panthers owner and founder Jerry Richardson took the opportunity to celebrate with the region:
“This is a dream come true for me and my partners and for the 10 million people in the Carolinas,” said Carolina Panthers Owner/Founder Jerry Richardson, who became just the second former player to own an NFL team along with George Halas of the Chicago Bears.
The team began play in the 1995 season. The Panthers lost their very first game in overtime to the Atlanta Falcons, 23-20, on September 3, 1995.
But the endeavor to bring the NFL to Carolina began before the 1990s. On July 16, 1987, Richardson met in Charlotte with a group of interested parties to discuss the feasibility of entering the competition for one of the two NFL expansion franchises. On December 15, 1987, Richardson officially announced an NFL franchise bid for the Carolinas.
At the League owners meeting on March 18, 1992, the NFL reduced the list of expansion candidate cities from eleven to seven with the Carolinas making the cut. Two months later, the NFL again slimmed the list down to five communities: Baltimore, St. Louis, Memphis, Jacksonville and the Carolinas.
Finally, on October 26, 1993, the NFL owners unanimously selected Carolina as the 29th NFL franchise. In 2016, the attempt to win their first Super Bowl in their second appearance.