Lawmakers Say NFL Panthers' BOA Stadium Renovation Funds Will Require Public Vote
Two North Carolina Republican lawmakers said that “any effort to raise Charlotte’s prepared food tax to help upgrade Bank of America Stadium would require a vote by the public,” according to a front-page piece by Morrill & Harrison of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. State Rep. Bill Brawley yesterday said, “There will be a referendum.” Brawley’s comments as well as earlier remarks by State House Speaker Thom Tillis came on a day when Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson "formally asked Mecklenburg County lawmakers for state help.” Brawley and Tillis also suggested that "achieving a plan laid out by the city and the team, which needs approval by the state and maybe the voters, may not be easy.” The deal calls for the city to raise $144M by "doubling the local restaurant and bar tax" from 1% to 2%, with $125M "going for stadium improvements.” The Panthers also are seeking $62.5M "from the state.” Richardson told lawmakers, “We’re a proven investment. We’re not a risk.” Richardson was asked why he “couldn’t fund the stadium improvements himself.” His reply was that NFL franchises are “so coveted.” Richardson: “They don’t have to pay for them. There are only 32. That’s the reality.” He also insisted that he has “no plans to move” the team. Richardson: “I would never move the team, I want to emphasize that. I never made a threat to move the team. To be honest with you, it was offensive to me to suggest I would” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/14). In Raleigh, Frank, Christensen, Bonner & Morrill note Richardson “showed up at the 7:30 a.m. meeting after being in Philadelphia the night before to attend a memorial service.” He said the proposal is “time sensitive.” Richardson: “If it wasn’t so time sensitive, I wouldn’t be here at the crack of dawn this morning” (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 2/14).