David Tepper Talks Layoffs, Finances, Panthers' Attendance Plans
Tepper Sports & Entertainment last month furloughed or laid off more than 20 employees, after the company in May moved on from at least 10 employees, and Panthers Owner David Tepper said the moves came on "two different levels," according to Alaina Getzenberg of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Tepper said, "When we came in here, we did make a lot of changes. ... Some of those things were changes that needed to be done for a while. And some of those are just responding to the current environment of limited fans." He added, "But the question is: What’s right for the organization and what’s right for the individual and the long term? ... I don't take one person lightly." Tepper "defended the move." Tepper: "It's not good to have an individual sit there idle for a year or a year and a half or two years with nothing to do inside the organization." Meanwhile, in regard to the NFL not having a uniform policy on fan attendance, Tepper joked, "The league is determined that the teams that can have fans will have fans and the teams that can’t have fans, can't have fans. It's just a question of how the different regions are" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/3).
SHARING HIS THOUGHTS: In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg noted Tepper "lamented not being able to have fans" for the Panthers' season opener on Sept. 13. A source said that 70% of the team's season-ticket holders "opted out of buying tickets in 2020 this summer." Tepper said he understands North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper "has a difficult job with this Covid from an optic standpoint and a science standpoint." But he added regarding fan capacity, "We [started] developing a plan in March based on science. ... We do think we can do this, we don't think we can't do it as a full stadium, honestly. We can do limited fans very safely." Meanwhile, Tepper "acknowledged significant revenue decreases anticipated this season." Tepper: "Red ink's going to flow, there's no doubt about it. At least it will flow down here even if we have partial fans" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/2). THE ATHLETIC's Joseph Person wrote regardless of circumstance, it is "still a bad look for a hedge fund manager worth $13 billion to be cutting jobs during a pandemic." Tepper "bristled at a follow-up question about the cuts, saying not all of the decisions were based purely on dollars and cents." Tepper also "either subtly or otherwise tried to apply some political pressure" to Cooper, who "declined to grant the Panthers an extension to allow them to have a limited number of fans" for their home opener. Person: "Tepper can lean on Cooper all he wants, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell created the competitive -- and fiscal -- imbalance by choosing not to implement an across-the-board attendance rule" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/2).
BUCK STOPS HERE: In Charlotte, Scott Fowler notes in Tepper's first public comments since the removal of the Jerry Richardson statue in June, he "made it clear Wednesday that the statue would never be coming back to Bank of America Stadium under his watch." While Tepper "seemed frustrated about some aspects of owning the Panthers right now -- not being able to have fans in the stands for the first game of this season bugs him -- there's no doubt he is ready to move on permanently from the 4,500-pound statue" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/3).
STAYING PATIENT: Tepper yesterday said that his MLS expansion club Charlotte FC "would have been ready to play its inaugural season in 2021 if the coronavirus pandemic had not forced a delay." Still, Tepper said that he "considered the move to push the season to 2022 a beneficial action" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/3).