Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

Can the Panthers leave Charlotte if they don’t receive $650 million from the city?

By meerna Jun12,2024

REBECCA NOEL Charlotte/TNS Observer

Tepper Sports & Entertainment’s proposed stadium deal would keep the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte for at least 15 years. Or if there is no agreement, there is no local law preventing the Panthers from moving now.

The plan proposed Monday to the Charlotte City Council includes $650 million for Bank of America Stadium renovations, which are expected to be completed by 2029. Tepper Sports & Entertainment, owner of the Panthers and Charlotte FC, plans to commit $150 million in addition to improvements already made and planned projects over the life of the deal.

City-funded projects would include safety and security, stadium restrooms, locker rooms and technology upgrades, among others. More renovations are planned, but not all are financed by the city.

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The deal would keep the Panthers and Charlotte FC here for a maximum of 20 years, with 15 years mandatory. With Charlotte City Council approval this year, Tepper’s teams could leave as early as 2039 and pay off the remaining debt on the renovation projects.

At this point, the Panthers do not appear to be interested in moving as the downtown training facility is already going through the approval process after withdrawing from the Rock Hill facility and there have been no outside statements of intent to relocate.

“We are proud to be at Charlotte Stadium, and Bank of America Stadium has been our home and a special place for our Carolina Panthers fans, and now Charlotte FC fans, for almost 30 years,” Panthers president Kristi Coleman said in a statement Monday. “Today was the first step in a series of conversations with public officials. Our goal is to build a collaborative partnership so that this community asset can continue to generate unique and memorable fan experiences, as well as have an economic impact on the city and region for years to come.

The city’s funding for the project will come from city hospitality and tourism taxes, which can only be used for certain projects. Namely, they can only be used for “tourism and tourism-related activities,” and the funds are typically spent on the care of facilities and facilities.

City and community leaders used the limited scope of tourist tax revenues and economic impact numbers to advocate for the project.

“These dollars cannot be used for anything other than a specific purpose,” Malcolm Graham, chairman of the Charlotte City Council’s Labor and Economic Development Committee, told City Council members on Monday. “No social housing, no homelessness, no crime and no public safety – only for travel and tourism.”

Bank of America Stadium generates $1.1 billion in economic impact annually, including $706 million from the Panthers, Tracy Dodson, assistant city manager and director of economic development, said in her Monday presentation.

However, research suggests that estimates of the economic impact of stadiums and professional sports are often inflated because they do not take into account the fact that if people do not spend their disposable income on sporting events, they will often spend it on something other members of the community anyway, such as dining outside the home.

Can the Panthers leave Charlotte now?

As WBTV reported at the time, the previous agreement keeping the Panthers in Charlotte expired in June 2023. At this time, the team will not face any penalties for the move. It is unclear whether Charlotte FC, founded in 2019, faces similar local restrictions on relocations.

According to Graham, if the team moves to 2027, taxpayers would have the option to purchase the stadium from Tepper Sports & Entertainment, which currently owns the facility and the land it sits on is owned by the city.

Still, the new deal may be a tough sell for some City Council members and Charlotte residents. This big question comes as the team hasn’t had a winning season since David Tepper purchased it for nearly $2.3 billion in 2018. The city is also paying $275 million to renovate the Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets.

If the Panthers do want to move, it would be the latest in a string of recent stadium contract disputes that have led to team relocations.

In January 2016, the NFL’s Rams, Raiders and Chargers filed relocation requests, each citing stadium-related issues. The Rams were the first to make the change, ending a 21-year stay in St. Louis and returning to Los Angeles, California. The Chargers also moved to Los Angeles the following year. The Raiders moved their franchise to Las Vegas in 2020.

The Charlotte City Council is expected to vote on the new proposal on June 24.

By meerna

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