The Atlanta Falcons aren’t the only NFC South team working on a deal to raise stadium money. The Carolina Panthers have had ongoing negotiations between the league, the city and private investors for some time to renovate the 17-year-old Bank of America stadium. A deal that had once seemed fairly solid, has now taken an interesting twist.
As in any stadium deal in the modern era of sports, there has to be a balance struck between the amount of money expected from taxpayers as opposed to investors, and what the city is willing to give in return to both parties. In the case of the Panthers, the City of Charlotte was offering a 15-year commitment to keep the Panthers based there, while $200 million was expected to be handed over to the NFL through monies collected by tax revenue.
Now, one of the major supporters of the deal is stating that a lack of funding as well as limited tax revenue from the state are going to make the deal unworkable as currently planned.
What this means is that the NFL is going to have to settle for a smaller chunk of the pie, and the City of Charlotte will be offering much less than a 15-year commitment to keeping the Panthers in town.
“At the end of the day, we don’t have but $110 million for the convention center fund, so all of us need to change the original proposal,” said James Mitchell, chair of the Charlotte City Council’s economic development committee. “They’re very understanding of that. We would love to be at $144 million, but our hands are tied.”
There are two pieces of the puzzle which make this dollar amount a variable right now. The State House OK’d a measure last month which states the city could use some or all of the $24 million convention center reserve fund to help pay for upgrades at the stadium. The city could leverage that $24 million into $110 million, the figure Mitchell mentioned, which is significantly less than the $144 million council members had pledged in an agreement with the Panthers in February.
The other part was a request to raise local restaurant meal taxes by 1 percent, which was denied by the State’s General Assembly. This tax revenue would have generated approximately $125 million for the Panthers, and was also planned to be money to build upon to plan for a new stadium in the next 15-20 years.
The taxpayers may get a small break with these developments, but the league gets less money, and the fans get less guarantee that the Panthers will remain in Carolina long-term.