By now, Carolina Panthers fans are familiar and perhaps shaken by rumors swirling around the franchise that team owner Jerry Richardson may bolt on the city of Charlotte and the Carolinas altogether if public backing falls through on upgrading Bank of America Stadium.
The NFL is hungry, if not foaming at the mouth, for the city of Los Angeles, California to serve as a prime destination for an organization on the move.
It’s a shame the Panthers are now associated with such a potential relocation project and one that will ultimately break the hearts of some fan base somewhere around the league in the near future.
Talk of a possible Panthers’ move heated-up early last week and grew more intense as the week drug into the weekend. In fact, the flurry of content that broke out over the internet pairing the Panthers with Los Angeles caused such a stir among Panthers fans that Richardson had to address the rumors on Sunday by releasing a statement to ESPN.
“It has always been my desire that the Carolinas would be the home of our Panthers. Nothing has changed. As someone who was born in North Carolina and lived much of my life in South Carolina, I hope that there would be no doubts about my personal devotion to the Carolinas,” Richardson said.
However, Richardson and Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke with one another back in September when the Democratic National Convention was taking place in Charlotte.
Of course the specifics of that meeting haven’t been fully disclosed by either party, though it appears rather shady in the eyes of many loyal fans.
The mayor and the NFL are fully aware the Panthers are one of four teams that own their own stadium. A situation fueled by many disappointing sub-plots this season (poor record, struggling young quarterback, two firings) make the Panthers the sexiest option to ship-out west in both the minds of the NFL and Los Angeles city officials.
For now, it seems as if talk of Los Angeles won’t go away until Charlotte city officials make a call on upgrades to Carolina’s current stadium. The team’s 2-7 record and Sunday’s dreadful loss at home to the Denver Broncos doesn’t help either.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers Columnist. Contact @robertkester1