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Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

Charlotte council wants to make sure Panthers owner pays for future upgrades, doesn’t want to hear from public opinion – Field of Schemes

By meerna Jun11,2024

Proposed Carolina Panthers the stadium renovation deal is oddly structured: the city of Charlotte would repay $650 million of the initial $800 million construction costs by 2029; Team owner David Tepper will contribute the remaining $150 million plus $421 million after 2029 for what the Charlotte Business Journal calls “future improvements and replacement of obsolete technology and other equipment that have not yet been publicly disclosed.” And while Charlotte city officials seemed to miss the most important question at yesterday’s hearing – why should the public pay 81% of the initial renovation cost when Tepper would receive all the proceeds, especially in exchange for just a 15-year lease extension guarantee – they did ask another obvious question: what happens if we spend public money and Tepper decides not to spend his own?

(Board Members) Dimple Ajmera, Dante Anderson and Malcolm Graham, among others… asked for more details about Tepper Sports’ future obligations and the type of penalties or clawback provisions included in the agreement.

Ajmera mentioned the “elephant in the room,” referring to Tepper Sports founder David Tepper, who abandoned an $800 million team headquarters project in Rock Hill in 2022.

Construction of the headquarters was more than halfway done when Tepper pulled the plug, citing unmet obligations from local authorities. Construction never resumed, and the case was settled in bankruptcy court.

Yeah, so if you’re asking taxpayers for a check for $650 million, maybe giving up on another project because you wanted more public money after the deadline isn’t the best solution, as the kids say.

Still, it appears the city council as a whole will approve the $650 million subsidy, and one of them, Ed Driggs, is justifying it with the groundbreaking argument that using city hotel tax money “is not a property tax, it’s not a tax from sales, it is the income collected by hotel interests to invest in these types of ventures.” (For the record, other North Carolina cities, such as Asheville, have used hotel tax money to pay for parks and are considering using it for things like affordable housing and transportation). City officials have launched a website that collects public comments on the proposal (scroll down), but it won’t reveal how much is positive or negative, and city council did not allow any public testimony about the plan at yesterday’s hearing:

The council now says there will be at least one opportunity to comment publicly – on June 24, immediately before the council votes on the plan. There’s still a risk that the council could delay the vote until it returns from summer break in August, but Tepper says that would delay the construction schedule, which was apparently set based on getting city approval for a $650 million grant for the project just three weeks ago . Two minute warning, check!

By meerna

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