NFL Panthers Owner David Tepper "continues to take steps to boost the team's infrastructure and development growth," as the team has hired Steelers VP/Planning & Development Mark Hart to the same position, according to Peralta, Rodrigue & Cope of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. In August, Hart "oversaw proposals to fund capital developments for Heinz Field and other Pittsburgh sports facilities using tax dollars." Both Hart and new Panthers President Tom Glick will be "key to the capital and infrastructural development of the organization," as development plans "will likely include North and South Carolina" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/13).
TWO STATES, ONE TEAM: In Charleston, Andy Shain in a front-page piece reports the Panthers "plan to build a team headquarters and practice facility" in York County (S.C.), "just over the state line" from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. This will give South Carolina a "bigger role in the region's only pro football franchise." Sources said that the team is looking for a site "large enough for its needs as well as development of neighboring hotels, restaurants, stores and residences" (Charleston POST & COURIER, 12/13). In Charlotte, Peralta, Rodrigue & Cope note the Panthers "have not yet reached out to York County Economic Development." Glick said the reported interest in a York County site is "just speculation," and that the team remains in the evaluation process. However, YCED Dir David Swenson said that the agency would be "interested in talking" with the team about possible development. The Panthers' practice facilities are "well-behind those of other teams in the NFL, in part because they are outdoors" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/13).
DC Council Member David Grosso "urged" U.S. Rep. Eleanor Norton (D-DC) to "do all she could to block what he called a 'backdoor attempt' to pave the way" for the Redskins to build a new stadium in DC, according to Clarke & DeBonis of the WASHINGTON POST. Grosso is the "second council member to publicly oppose" the plan to "insert a provision granting a 99-year lease extension" on the site of RFK Stadium in a federal spending bill set to be voted on before Congress adjourns next week. Grosso has "long opposed the Redskins' name and logo, which he considers racist and offensive." Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who will also chair the House Natural Resources Committee next year, "voiced his discomfort with the team name and suggested it could be a stumbling block if the city seeks a lease extension on behalf of the Redskins during the next legislative session, when Democrats take control of the House." This is "largely why" Redskins Owner Dan Snyder and DC officials have "been working quietly to get the long-term lease approved before the current Republican-controlled Congress adjourns" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/13).
NOT THE ONLY ISSUE AT HAND: In DC, Barry Svrluga wrote this is "just the start of the story, because even if language pertaining to the RFK site sneaks into the massive spending bill," it would "only clear the way for the land to be used for a stadium and potential development around it." It does not mean that a stadium "would be built there, or that the development will follow." Svrluga: "Brace yourself for the wrangling and war of words to come." Of all of the Redskins' "problems, and they are many, the current stadium is high on the list." FedExField not only "doesn't provide a reason to go to games, it has been built in to fans' litany of justifications for staying away." The Redskins franchise has "managed to gather up an amazing straight flush of problems: It has an owner the fan base can't stand, employing a team president the fan base doesn't trust, putting together a team that ... has crumbled with four straight losses to fall to the fringe of the postseason picture, coached by a man who inspires no real sense of long-term confidence playing in a building where no one really wants to spend an afternoon" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/12).
THE REAL WINNER: In DC, Thomas Boswell writes under the header, "The Real Winner Of Redskins Stadium Derby Will Be Whoever Doesn't Get It." Boswell: "I don't care if or where Snyder builds a new stadium. I just hope everyone in the DMV understands that the shabby way Snyder deals with his own customers -- and the way he is playing politicians against each other while keeping some of them in the dark -- is exactly the behavior they can expect if he moves to their turf." The "bigger the project -- and this ego-driven monstrosity no doubt would be vast -- the worse it can turn out." Boswell: "For your wallet or your quality of life." It looks as if Snyder "hasn't told his personal politicians in Maryland that he is simultaneously trying to wangle a sweetheart deal in DC." Snyder also "hasn't told the politicians in DC who want to get in bed with him that he is playing footsie" with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan at the "same time." For years, the Redskins "talked about building their dream stadium in Northern Virginia," where the team's HQ is located. No reports have "surfaced of secretive discussions." However, the team and Northern Virginia are "not as cozy since the team moved its preseason training camp to Richmond." Boswell: "Now guess which city is moaning about getting a bad deal with the Redskins: yes, Richmond" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/13).
A new Maryland Stadium Authority study "calls for demolishing Pimlico Race Course and rebuilding it" at a cost of $424M, according to a front-page piece by Luke Broadwater of the BALTIMORE SUN. The study "aims to design an ideal venue to host the Preakness Stakes and considers several year-round, non-racing uses for the site." The study "recommends adding amenities at the track, such as a grocery store, other shops, a hotel and townhouses." The estimated $424M cost "does not include any of the future development initiatives beyond rebuilding the clubhouse and tracks." The suggested plan "envisions additional projects that would be built by private developers." The study also suggests city and state officials, the Maryland Jockey Club and The Stronach Group "enter into formal negotiations about the next steps" for the track. Stronach owns and operates Pimlico and Laurel Park, and has said before that it "would not foot the entire bill for a renovation or rebuild." Stronach has also said that such an undertaking "would require a substantial public investment," but that the company is "open to discussing a public-private partnership." Baltimore City Council President Bernard Young said that he was concerned that the Preakness "might move during a rebuilding and then not return." Young: "If they can guarantee us we won’t lose the Preakness, the city will do our part." Amelia Chasse, a spokesperson for Gov. Larry Hogan, said the governor is "on record supporting keeping the Preakness in Baltimore and at Pimlico.” Broadwater notes the study's estimated cost was about $100M "higher than earlier estimates." It includes a $252.2M "multi-use clubhouse," $120.5M in infrastructure improvements, $29.6M in "work on the infield and track" and $21.5M for demolition (BALTIMORE SUN, 12/13).