City Of Charlotte Approves NFL Panthers' Stadium Renovation Proposal
The Charlotte City Council last night voted unanimously to "approve giving" the NFL Panthers $87.5M to "help renovate 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 Panthers will "contribute" $37.5M to the project, and plan to "install escalators, new video and ribbon boards and make other improvements to the 17-year-old stadium." The city yesterday "acknowledged the deal has complicated provisions designed to lessen the team’s property tax bill." If the city’s money is "used to build new escalators or video boards ... the city of Charlotte would own that property, making it tax-exempt." The city would then "lease the property to the Panthers at a fair-market price, which isn’t taxable." Charlotte would then "pay the Panthers a fee to maintain the property." Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson at the meeting "thanked Mayor Anthony Foxx and council members for considering the financial assistance." The Panthers' "original plan" was to spend $250M on renovations. But the plan approved yesterday "calls for the city to spend" $75M on improvements. Charlotte "will pay the team" $1M a year for 10 years for stadium maintenance. The public also will pay $250,000 annually for "traffic control on game days." The Panthers have "agreed to give the city and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority five rent-free days a year from January to June." That is "valued at $250,000 per event" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/23). The AP's Mitch Weiss noted after the vote, Richardson addressed the council, saying that he "hoped in the future that he could change the views of people in the crowd who opposed the deal" (AP, 4/22).
WANTING MORE: A CHARLOTTE OBSERVER editorial states the "so-called 'tether' is not worth much," as the Panthers have "no intention of moving anytime soon." Charlotte needed "something meaty in return -- like the 15-year tether the Panthers had agreed to if the city gave them" $144M. That is a deal the city "might have had if it hadn’t misplayed its hand so badly." This deal "guarantees only one thing: That the city will be back at the negotiating table all too soon" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/23).