SBD/November 12, 2012/Franchises

Panthers Owner Richardson Says He Has No Intention Of Moving Team To L.A.

Richardson maintains that he is committed to keeping the Panthers in Charlotte
NFL Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson yesterday said that he has “no intention to move the team to Los Angeles -- or anywhere else,” according to Green & Person of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Amid reports that California political officials “have been courting Richardson in the hopes of bringing the team to Los Angeles, Richardson issued a statement Sunday saying his desire to have a team in the Carolinas has not changed.” Some of the discussions between L.A. officials and Richardson “occurred during the Democratic National Convention, including a conversation with Los Angeles Mayor and DNC Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/12). ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the California officials have had "no luck to date" with their talks. Richardson has "been polite and steadfast that he is committed to Charlotte and he isn’t moving the Panthers anywhere." The "only scenario in which he would listen would be if Charlotte balked at helping him with some of the stadium renovations the Panthers have been seeking." The Panthers are one of four teams that "own their own stadium and don't have to break any leases to move." ESPN's Chris Berman said, "Not surprising. He's from that area, and you wouldn't think so" (“Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 11/11).

EASY TARGET: In L.A., Sam Farmer wrote the talk of a possible move is “a telegraphed pass.” The way for teams to “fire a shot over the bow of their home cities is to bring up L.A. -- or have it brought up for them.” It is “no accident that in his statement Richardson doesn't completely rule out the possibility of leaving.” Richardson is “close friends with Patrick Soon-Shiong, the L.A. billionaire who is interested in buying AEG and being an owner of an NFL team." Farmer: "So it's not inconceivable for Soon-Shiong, who needs Richardson to pave the way for him with the NFL, to do the Panthers owner a solid by nudging an L.A. politician to gin up interest in Carolina’s team, even if there are other franchises far more likely to relocate” (LATIMES.com, 11/11). SI.com's Peter King writes when Richardson "issues a statement saying he is devoted to the Carolinas without saying he categorically wouldn't move to Los Angeles, you know it's a leverage play to get public money to rehab his stadium" (SI.com, 11/12).
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