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London Calling Panthers Means Early Kickoff In Charlotte

David Tepper, Sir Purr and cheerleaders
Carolina Panthers
Panthers owner David Tepper poses with Sir Purr and cheerleaders at the team's London headquarters bar.

The Carolina Panthers have a game Sunday. That part isn't newsbreaking. But where it will be held is a bit different: in London.

The long-distance kickoff makes it a little difficult for Charlotte fans of the NFL team to not only attend the game, but watch it. With the time difference, the game begins at 9:30 a.m. Eastern.

That means bars across town will open early to accommodate some of the most diehard fans, like those with the Panthers' fan club, the Roaring Riot. Taproom Social in uptown Charlotte is the official bar of the Queen City Riot, and general manager Sunkul Soni will open the doors at 9 a.m.

He'll serve free coffee, bagels and doughnuts until Taproom Social is allowed to serve alcohol at 10 a.m., per state law.

He's not sure how many people to expect -- he has the sense that fans are excited and will want to watch among friends — but most of all he's just excited for the Panthers to get some international exposure.

Fans and media have been posting photos and videos online of Panthers players and team personnel in England — including some footage of team owner David Tepper dancing and just generally having the time of his life.

"Number one, I’m super excited for the team, overall," Soni said. "I just think our showing out there in London has just been tremendous. If you’ve been watching the videos and everything else going on, I mean, I’m jealous that I’m not over there myself. I think the fan base here is going to support that, too. I think you’re going to have a lot of folks going to their respective watering holes to catch this game."

Charlotte area British-themed bars — such as Big Ben Pub and Sir Edmond Halley's — will open early, as well, but said they do not plan to have any specials in honor of the Panthers' game at London's Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

And Soni said he is not planning on tea and crumpets before he's allowed to serve alcohol 30 minutes after kickoff.

"Instead of going English, I thought we'd just go traditional American," he said, laughing. "Just keep it super traditional, here. But that is a great idea."