Panthers, S.C. Lawmakers In Talks To Move Team's Operations
The NFL Panthers and South Carolina lawmakers are "working on a deal to move the team’s business operations and training facilities out of Charlotte and across the border into South Carolina," according to a front-page piece by Schechter & Peralta of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster met privately with Panthers Owner David Tepper yesterday at the Governor’s Mansion to "discuss details of the deal." McMaster said that Tepper "expressed interest in moving 150 employees to a site in York or Lancaster counties." He added that the potential Panthers move would "include an estimated investment" of at least $150M by the team within a four-year period. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said Tepper has had "ongoing conversations" with the N.C. Commerce Dept. Tepper also has "met with Cooper a few times over the past few months" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/14).
STATES OF PLAY: In Charleston, Andy Shain in a front-page piece notes it was first reported in December that the Panthers would still play games in Charlotte but would move "other operations" into York County. S.C. state Rep. Jay Lucas said, "A football team is a big business and it involves much, much more than where you play your football games. The Carolina Panthers would truly become one team in two states." S.C. state Rep. Gary Simrill said that the first incentive that "must be approved by the state Legislature is a proposed law change defining players as full-time employees because the Panthers would be the first major professional sports team with significant operations" in the state. The bills introduced yesterday would allow the Panthers to "qualify for tax credits for bringing more jobs to South Carolina by adding a definition for pro athletes" (Charleston POST & COURIER, 3/14).
VALUE ADDED? In Charlotte, Katherine Peralta noted Mecklenburg County’s recent revaluation, saw Bank of America Stadium’s "tax value surge" from $135M to $572M. But the Panthers claim that the facility is "actually worth" just over $87.2M. Panthers CFO Kristi Coleman said that the team’s estimate is "based on the recent purchase of the team." The Panthers could "argue that Bank of America Stadium is an aging stadium that has depreciated in value over time, despite its recent renovations." Appealing the stadium’s valuation "could be an attempt to ultimately lower the Panthers’ tax bill -- although tax rates have yet to be set by county commissioners." A bill passed by the N.C. legislature last year "exempts the team from paying taxes on public land leased at below-market value." The Panthers lease 34 acres from the city for $1 a year, so that law "saves the team more than $350,000 a year on property taxes" (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 3/13).