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By   /   March 4, 2013  /   Comments

Special to the Journal

ALBANY, GA – The Panthers are well-loved.

Evidence of how the Albany area feels about its Professional Indoor Football League team could be seen in the numbers that crowded Phoebe Field on Friday to enjoy the club’s annual Meet and Greet.

“You have to love this team,” said Albany resident Wanda Dyson, who was one of more than 1,000 people in attendance. “The organization does more for the community than all the other pro teams combined. And the team has heart. You’ve heard that song, ‘You’ve Gotta Have Heart?’ Well, this team has heart. I can’t wait for the season to get started.”
And the feeling was mutual with Panthers players, who were on hand throughout the event.

“Our fans are great,” said Cecil Lester. “They always support us. I’m real excited about this season, and it seems like the fans are more excited about this year than years past.

“We’ve got plenty of fans. I was in Atlanta and Macon this offseason and saw a lot of Panthers fans, and look at them out there today.”

Added Adrian Howard: “[It] feels like the fans are really excited about the way we finished last season and the new acquisitions, like Stony Woodson and Cecil Lester coming back.”

Panthers General Manager Will Carter smiled when looking out at the field swelling with Panthers fans.

“It’s a great turnout,” Carter said. “There are a lot of Panthers fans here. Hopefully they’ll come out and keep supporting the team. I’m excited about this team. It’s a good team and I think we have a chance to go back to the Championship.”

Fans began to pour through the Albany James H. Gray Civic Center gates at 5 p.m. ET and they continued to do so through closing time at 8 p.m.

This year’s event included interactive activities, increased player involvement and an array of autograph opportunities, activities for all ages and photo opportunities with club mascot Prowler and a host of Panther players.

Special discussions took place with Panthers broadcasters, players, coaches and media personnel.

“We’ve had a great day,” said an exhausted looking Kate Tabor. “I think it’s really nice what the Panthers do. I’m looking forward to a great season.”

The Panthers kick off the season on the road against the Louisiana Swashbucklers Saturday, March 9th at 8p.m. ET. You can catch all the action on 97.3 WGEX-FM.

Albany Panther season tickets are still available to the 2012 season, one of the best values in all of professional sports, by calling the Albany Panthers offices at (229) 435-1230 or logging on to www.albanypanthers.net.

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