The city of Charlotte and the NFL Panthers have reached a deal in which the city would contribute $87.5M for "scaled-back renovations to Bank of America Stadium in exchange for a six-year 'hard tether' to keep the team in Charlotte," according to a front-page piece by Steve Harrison of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The City Council is expected to "approve the proposal Monday night." The agreement also has what the city has "characterized as a four-year 'soft tether' after that." In those four years, the team has "agreed to stay in the city, though it would be relatively easy for the Panthers to move in years 7 through 10 of the deal." The "short length of the firm commitment to Charlotte could mean the City Council will negotiate with the team again, as soon as after the 2016 season, when Bank of America Stadium will be 23 years old." Panthers President Danny Morrison said that it would be "'premature' to speculate on whether the team would consider a new stadium at that point." Harrison notes the team's initial proposal called for a $250M stadium renovation which would have seen the city contribute $125M. Under that deal, the state "would have paid" $62.5M, and the Panthers "would have spent" $62.5M for stadium improvements and $15M for maintenance. For that, the Panthers "would have been bound to Charlotte for 15 years." But that was rejected by legislators. A "number of projects won't move forward because the team has less money than planned." Among the cuts are $29M for "club seats and suite improvements," $30M for a new practice facility and $16M for "larger entry gates, a larger ticket office and a new team store." Morrison did say that the "scaled-back renovations would make Bank of America Stadium equipped to host a Super Bowl" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/19).
The Dolphins have "given a full embrace" to a Florida state Senate plan that would require the team to "compete with other sports teams for a state tax break of up to $3 million per year," according to Toluse Olorunnipa of the MIAMI HERALD. Teams would "battle for a pot of $13 million in tax breaks and would be ranked based on potential economic impact." The House version of the bill does "not include those provisions and has stalled for the last two weeks." State Rep. Seth McKeel, chair of the House Budget committee, has "no plans to hear it anytime soon." If the House "decides to spike the bill, the Dolphins’ efforts at a taxpayer-supported stadium upgrade could die in Tallahassee." Though the Senate version has "additional stipulations that are not in the House bill (which offers a specific tax break for the Dolphins), the team has supported the bill that’s currently moving through the higher chamber." An agreement between the Dolphins and Miami-Dade County indicated that tourist tax dollars could "help the team generate up to $289 million, while the state tax break could bring in $3 million annually for several years." Still, it is "not clear where things stand in the House, where there is substantial opposition to the deal." It has "cleared two committees, but has to pass the Budget Committee to complete the committee process." There are "about two weeks left in session" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/19). In West Palm Beach, Jim Turner notes McKeel "didn’t give any indication on Wednesday as to whether his committee would have time to review the House bills for the Dolphins funding (HB 165) or any other stadium proposal" (PALM BEACH POST, 4/19).
The Georgia World Congress Center Authority on Thursday announced that 360 Architecture, pending contract negotiations, has been selected to design a new $1B stadium project for the Falcons. The K.C.-based firm won the job over four other finalists: HKS, Populous with SHoP Architects, EwingCole with David Manica and the team of Heery, Gensler and TVS Design. 360 Architecture designed MetLife Stadium and was hired by Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross to design a $400M upgrade of Sun Life Stadium. The Falcons' new home is expected to open in '17 (Don Muret, Staff Writer). In Atlanta, Tim Tucker reports the GWCCA and the Falcons "hope to complete" the agreement "this month." A contract will "require approval of the GWCCA board, next scheduled to meet April 30." The stadium will be "built on the Georgia World Congress Center campus near the Georgia Dome, which will be demolished after the new facility opens." The preferred site is "immediately south of the Dome but requires acquisition of property, including two churches. An alternative site is 1/2 mile north of the Dome" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 4/19).
Churchill Downs is “tightening its security policies for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks in response to the Boston Marathon bombings,” according to a front-page piece by Gregory Hall of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. The new policies “expand the list of items banned from the track, including coolers and purses larger than 12 inches.” The track’s guidelines “were revised after the bombings and bring back some of the restrictions imposed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.” Those policies “had been relaxed” since the ‘02 Derby and Oaks. The resumption of the cooler ban is the “biggest change, although coolers will be sold along with ice in the infield.” Coolers “were first banned in 2002, before being allowed again in 2009.” While some cameras and phones with cameras "will still be allowed, camcorders, tripods and other video equipment will be banned along with cameras that have detachable lenses or cameras equipped with lenses more than 6 inches long.” Churchill Downs also is “increasing electronic wand searches at admission gates and entrances for employees, vendors and media.” All items carried into the track through those gates “are subject to search by officers from Churchill Downs security and law enforcement” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 4/19).