SportSouth unveils FOX Sports Fan Express in Charlotte

The FOX Sports Fan Express features larger-than-life images of Hornets stars Lance Stephenson (above), Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. –€“ The tickets have been bought and a group of you and your friends are set to partake in a fun-filled night of basketball involving the Charlotte Hornets. There will be food, drinks and hopefully a win before the evening is through.

So, just how exactly does one increase the overall entertainment value to such a night that already seems to be overflowing with excitement and good times?

By taking a luxury ride to the game for free aboard the FOX Sports Fan Express, or course.

The newly decorated, 57-passenger bus with Wi-Fi and video screens is now available for no charge for those that purchase tickets for Hornet games through group sales. It will pick the group up at a location of the group’s choosing and will return them to the same spot following the game.

The big bus is painted in Charlotte colors and features billboard-sized images of players Al Jefferson, Lance Stephenson and Kemba Walker. It’s unmistakable that this is a coach that is special to the Hornets and will turn heads.

The obvious question is: Seriously, a free ride aboard a luxury bus that will absolutely grab the attention of everyone who sees it, while at the same time making every Charlotte fan envious because they’re not on it, too?

Want to ride the Fan Express?

It’s all true.

"It’s an initiative by FOX to be a good partner with our teams," said Jeff Genthner, senior vice president and general manager of FOX Sports South and SportSouth. "We absolutely believe that if we help the team promote their product and get the fans interested, it will have a residual effect on our product.

"We want to turn people into fans. If you tap into that emotion of enjoyment, you make it personal and all of a sudden you’ve got great memories."

The concept to enhance the fan experience for free is nothing new for the regional networks of FOX Sports, as the same concept has occurred in Florida, Michigan, Texas, Southern California, Minneapolis and Atlanta.

Now it’s Charlotte’s turn.

"We provided the bus at no cost at all to the team," Genthner said Friday a Buzz Fest, a two-day celebration to the Hornets starting the season off on Wednesday. "FOX absorbs the total cost of the bus. The team doesn’t pay a penny for the bus. We pay for the upkeep, the gas, the driver, everything."

So, what’s the catch? Do fans have to buy several thousand dollars’ worth of tickets in order to use the bus?

"No, not all," said Seth Bennett, senior vice president of marketing, entertainment and interactive media for the Hornets. "You won’t have to buy a certain ticket to use the bus. You can buy tickets in the lower bowl or in the upper deck. The bus is free. All you have to do is make a reservation through our group ticket sales office."

Fans interested in booking the bus only need to call 704-HORNETS, e-mail groups@hornets.com or visit www.hornets.com/fanexpress.

"I’d say it’s easily unique to have a regional broadcast partner like FOX provide something like this," Bennett said. "We’re very fortunate to have someone like them as our partner and so are the fans."

The newly decorated, 57-passenger bus with Wi-Fi and video screens.