Lunch Break (1/15/16): Parking prices increase exponentially in lead-up to Panthers playoff game

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Parking prices near Bank of America Stadium are set to skyrocket for fans attending the Panthers' playoff game on Sunday. Costing nearly as much as an extra (nosebleed) ticket to a regular season game, lots in the stadium area are pre-selling parking passes online for $60 to $114. The same spots would normally run $4 to $8. E-Z Parking sets prices based on demand, which has been increasing for Panthers games throughout the seasons. Officials suggest that fans use the light-rail, as even Uber will probably be implementing high "surge" prices. (Jason Stoogenke, WSOC) 

Walmart announced this morning that it will be closing 269 stores around the country, including at least 16 in North Carolina and one in the Charlotte area, an Express store in Richland, 45 minutes north of Charlotte. The retail giant is shutting down its entire Express chain, which consisted of 102 small-format stores, along with 23 Neighborhood Markets and 12 Supercenters, among other closures. The closures are expected to result in the loss of 16,000 jobs. (Katie Peralta, Charlotte Observer) 

A two-car crash shut down Independence Boulevard for nearly three hours this morning. Reports haven’t revealed what caused the crash, but images from the scene depict considerable damage to the vehicles. Both drivers were taken to the hospital — one with serious injuries. The roadway reopened at 5 AM, just in time for commuter traffic. (Christine Sperow, WBTV) 

An unmarked police car was rear-ended on Bessemer City Road in Gastonia last night, sending Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger and Chief Deputy Kim Johnson to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The accident occurred when 53-year old Kuzundra Mance, driving a 2005 Nissan Altima, failed to slow down for the red light, crashing into the officers’ Dodge Charger. After receiving medical attention on the scene, Mance did not require a trip to the hospital, but was charged with a DWI and failure to reduce speed, and was taken into police custody. (Fox46 Staff)

Crime scene investigators spent over seven hours searching a Concord area home after a woman’s body was discovered in the wooded backyard yesterday afternoon. Neighbors, who didn’t recognize the woman as a resident of the home, observed investigators working late into the night taking several suspects into custody and removing evidence from the house — including a mattress. Investigators haven’t revealed how the woman’s body was discovered, and an official cause of death is pending an autopsy. (Joe Bruno & Trish Williford, WSOC)

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