The Carolina Panthers today announced their partnership with prominent UK-based sports-partnerships pioneer Eleven Sports Media, launching a comprehensive partner program dedicated to the small business community in the Carolinas, a first-of-its-kind in the NFL.

Long established in the English Premier League and more recently across the MLS, Eleven’s award-winning partnership model allows small to medium sized businesses the opportunity to align themselves with their local sports teams, through a proven combination of branding, experiential and activation services.

Bank of America Stadium will be the inaugural NFL venue to feature Eleven’s fan engagement technology, purpose built to enhance the gameday experience for Panthers fans within the stadium bowl. Fans can expect a content rich experience in and around the stadium concourse and hospitality areas on gameday, showcasing a deeper level of statistical analysis of the on-field action.

Jake Burns, Panthers Chief Revenue Officer, commented: “We’re incredibly excited to be the first NFL franchise to partner with Eleven, and to bring the passion of our fans to the local small business community. We pride ourselves on being innovative, and first to market with new initiatives, and we’ve seen the success the Eleven products have had in the MLS. We’re excited to be the first to bring this to the NFL.”

Matt Cairns, Founder and CEO of Eleven Sports Media, said: “We’ve always believed that our model is suited for all mainstream US sports, in particular the NFL. The NFL is the richest league in the world and therefore leaves very few partnership opportunities for small businesses to align themselves with their local team. The Eleven model bridges that gap between rights-holders and their small business communities, delivering an end-to-end purpose-built solution that integrates seamlessly into the wider partnership structure.”

Cairns added “From the first conversations with the Panthers it was clear that there was a real sense of shared values, and the Panthers passion and commitment to their local business community is as strong as ours. Charlotte has recently ranked in the top-3 sporting cities in the US and it has a vibrant and thriving small business community ready to benefit from the power of sport and grow alongside their local NFL franchise.”

In addition to the Small Business Partner Program and Eleven’s fan engagement technology, Eleven will play a leading role in supporting the Panthers Challenger Flag football initiative, a program that gives children and young adults of various abilities, the opportunity to play flag football in a safe and structured environment.

Burns commented, “We’re very proud of our Challenger program, and in supporting this Eleven is going to help us provide jerseys to our participants, which is only going to strengthen their connection to the program and ultimately help us grow it.

Cairns concluded; “At Eleven we believe in supporting teams on and off the field and contributing to communities that we serve in a positive and meaningful way. When we discussed the Panthers Challenger Flag program, we were blown away by the initiative and the impact it has made. We’re delighted to align our name to the initiative and play a leading role in the future of the project.”