Panthers Hope To Accelerate Bank Of America Stadium Renovation Plans
NFL Panthers President Danny Morrison said that with a deal approved for public funding toward Bank of America Stadium renovations, the franchise has “turned its attention to getting started on planning" for the upgrades, and the team “wants to accelerate its plans,” according to Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The Panthers' “first priority is adding escalators to the upper deck of Bank of America Stadium during the next off-season and in time for summer 2014.” Charlotte-based architect David Wagner has “started work on the escalator designs.” Morrison “hinted the initial phase of construction could expand.” He said, “Now that we’ve been through the City Council vote, we’re speeding up the process of looking at video boards, ribbon boards and sound.” Spanberg noted the team “hopes to add all of those after the 2013 season and have them ready, along with the escalators, in time for 2014.” Morrison: “In a perfect world, we would like to be able to do (all of those projects) next off-season. That’s our major focus right now, to see if there’s any possible way to do that after the 2013 season.” Spanberg reported the Panthers “would have to borrow extra money" because the $28M cost of the escalators and the $30M video-audio additions "far exceed" the initial $28M city payment next year (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/29).
AS GOOD AS IT GETS: Several Charlotte City Council members are saying the deal with the Panthers likely was the best deal the city could have reached. The city will pay the team $87.5M toward the renovations, with the club chipping in $37.5M. Charlotte City Council member Andy Dulin said, “I would have preferred no deal and let the Panthers cover it. That wasn’t going to happen. ... Regardless of whether you like it or not, and most of the folks that support me don’t like it, this is a good deal for Charlotte.” Dulin noted the Panthers currently “are the only NFL team out of 32 that has no tether, no connection to the city at all because they own the stadium.” However, included in the team's deal with the city is now a six-year hard tether. City Council member Michael Barnes noted the city is “not increasing taxes” as part of the pact. The Charlotte Business Journal’s Spanberg said since the state of North Carolina “provided no help, this was the best option.” Spanberg: “The Panthers were trying to get away from paying property taxes. They wanted a parking deck built. So I think city negotiators at least pushed back a little bit in a situation where they really didn’t have much leverage” (“Flashpoint,” WCNC-NBC, 4/28).
WHERE'S THE BEEF? In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen wrote fans complaining about the Panthers deal were either "quiet or not present” at the team's free NFL Draft Party on Saturday. The fans in attendance were "upbeat and optimistic" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/28).