Panthers’ practice facility plans in doldrums



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Carolina Panthers end agreement of practise facility Image: Carolina Panthers

The National Football League (NFL) team Carolina Panthers (US) owner David Tepper’s real estate company announced on April 19th that they have terminated their agreement with the City of Rock Hill, leaving the future of the NFL team’s planned $800 million headquarters and practice facility up in the air.

The ‘AP’ stated that the news comes after the Panthers announced last month they were pausing construction on the project after failing to receive bonds from the City of Rock Hill in South Carolina to pay for public infrastructure.

The Carolina Panthers are a professional American football team based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference South division.

The Bank of America Stadium is a 74,867-seat football stadium located on 33 acres in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. It is the home facility and headquarters of the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League and Charlotte FC of Major League Soccer (MLS).

The ‘AP’ further stated that Tepper has invested more than $175 million into the state-of-the-art facility, which is located about 25 miles South of the team’s current downtown stadium and headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, US.

A spokesman for Tepper’s GT Real Estate Holdings said in a statement that the Panthers are prepared to sit down with the City of Rock Hill officials and other interested parties to “discuss the significant challenges ahead”.

The statement said the City of Rock Hill failed to issue the bonds or provide the funding for the public infrastructure for the project in early 2021. Tepper’s company said it negotiated with the City for more than a year, warning them in March they had 30 days or the Panthers would pull out.

The statement from Tepper’s company read, “It is unfortunate that some recently decided to conduct a misguided, destructive public relations campaign to obscure their failures.”

Rock Hill officials responded to the announcement on April 19th, calling the Panthers’ announcement “misleading and erroneous” and saying they embraced the Panthers, welcomed their headquarters to South Carolina and “did everything to make this project a success and have not defaulted on any of our obligations”.

The City of Rock Hill said in a statement, “It was and remains our intention to continue negotiating in good faith while protecting the interests of our taxpayers. In fact, in the past few weeks we have attempted to meet with the Panthers on numerous occasions to no avail.”

The City said it has met all obligations required under the agreement, but could not provide the Panthers unlimited resources and had to protect its taxpayers.

The Panthers headquarters and practice facility were expected to be completed in 2023.

If completed, the Panthers would conduct business in Rock Hill and hold practices and training camp at the new facility. The Panthers would continue to play games at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

South Carolina has had long ties to the Panthers. The team has held its Summer training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg and played its first season in 1995 at the Clemson University while the Bank of America Stadium was being built.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster called the Panthers announcement a “disappointment”

McMaster said in a statement made on April 19th, “We had hoped they would be a part of South Carolina’s record-breaking, booming economy.”

South Carolina lawmakers in 2019 approved a Bill offering the Panthers more than $100 million in tax breaks once the team headquarters were opened. The team would have been exempt from paying State income taxes for players, coaches and other employees for 15 years. The tax breaks will no longer apply if Tepper doesn’t build in the State.

Opponents of the deal questioned whether the State should be helping the NFL’s richest owner. Tepper is a hedge fund manager worth around $11 billion.

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