This past June, months before the start of the 2016 NFL regular season, the Carolina Panthers had a winning day when they celebrated owner Jerry Richardson’s 80th birthday by unveiling a new sculpture dedicated to him. The monument commemorates Richardson’s long-standing dedication and leadership, as well as the fierce spirit of the team. Bringing the sculpture to the Panther’s home stadium was a complex process that involved intensive logistics solutions, which were provided by Aeronet Worldwide.
The sculpture was created by artist Todd Andrews, who had previously created a six-panther sculpture for the team. This sculpture, entitled ‘The Tribute’, features Richardson, a former professional football player himself, standing proud, one arm outstretched, holding a football that carries all of the symbolic weight of the team’s future, while flanked on either side by two ferocious panthers, ready to pounce. The figures in the sculpture are known as ‘The Indomitable Spirits’, and they stand as guards to the stadium, which was brought to the city of Charlotte by Jerry Richardson.
The sculpture resides at the north entrance of the Bank of America Stadium. It rests on a 4-foot pedestal, Richardson’s figure standing 12’10. In its entirety, the sculpture weighs 4,500 pounds. The work, from inception to completion, took Andrews six months. The logistics for the transportation and installation of the piece, once completed, offered new challenges, which is where Aeronet came in. Aeronet Sales Manager Mary Ellen Gursoy, was referred to Andrews by the Artworks Foundry., with whom she has worked for 28 years.
Logistics operations had to be tightly coordinated every step of the way, thanks to the tight deadline in place and the secrecy involved. When the individual parts of the sculpture were completed, Aeronet used an air ride flatbed truck to transport them to the stadium, making sure to track it every step of the way, while receiving constant updates. Arrangements were made for the street surrounding the installation zone to be closed while the work was underway. The sculpture itself was kept under tarps to keep anyone from seeing in before the big day.
Whatever their fortunes on the field this year, the Panthers can be proud to have their fierce spirit, and the legacy of their leader, cemented permanently outside of the place they call home.
Thanks to the attention to detail shown by all involved, the truck arrived on time and the installation process got underway as scheduled. Todd Andrews had flown in to co-ordinate with the installers, and when it came time for the curtain to be pulled, the sculpture stood proudly in place. Mr. Richardson’s awed reaction upon seeing his dedication spoke to the all-around success of the project. When asked about it afterwards he said, “I’m actually speechless. Just overwhelmed.”