Several days ago, the Charlotte Business Journal reported that state legislatures had put forward a bill that would essentially start the process of either building the Carolina Panthers a new stadium or massively renovating their current home, Bank of America Stadium. The bill extends existing hospitality taxes until 2060. This would allow the state to put together money from local bars, restaurants, etc…for whatever stadium project awaits them. South Carolina House member John Ray Bradford told CBJ that by keeping certain hospitality taxes in place until 2060, people should be happy because they are “not increasing any taxes”. Except, without this extension, locals would have paid less at hotels, bars, restaurants, etc… in the future. He also claimed that the city would have more confidence going to banks with more taxpayer money? Or something.
My confidence is always sky-high whenever I see my “local hospitality lobbyists” being the ones who are dictating city/state policy for stadium funds.
“Scrutiny over city government’s decision to let local hospitality lobbyists pursue extensions of tourism taxes for possible funding of a new or renovated NFL stadium without public debate has not dissuaded city leaders from supporting the strategy” – Charlotte Business Journal, 05/04/23
Another official, one who is vice chair of the economic development committee, made it clear that he wants visitors to the area to be the one paying a “significant share” of the stadium expenses. He also has advice for residents who do not want to be hit with these higher taxes: “Residents can avoid paying the taxes by not staying in hotels or eating and drinking in restaurants”. Simple enough. But the biggest part of the story is something that we have known for years now. The Panthers owner “wants and will demand significant taxpayer investment in whatever he ends up doing”.
With a net worth of $14 billion, he made it apparent that the taxpayers will help him. You just need to want it enough…. I think.
“You know, at some point that building [Bank of America Stadium] will fall down,” Tepper said. “I said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m not building a stadium alone. The community’s going to have to want it.” — WCNC, 06/09/21
And who wouldn’t want to jump into a deal with this man? Just look at his business dealings since taking over as owner. When Tepper bought the team in 2018, the first business decision that he made was to move the team headquarters and practice facility to Rock Hill, South Carolina. It was described as an $800 million dollar deal. The city agreed to give up 100% of its property tax revenue for the next 30 years to help finance the public infrastructure around the new buildings. The county also agreed to give up 65% of its property tax revenue, and the Rock Hill School District agreed to give up 75% of their own.
Pep rallies were held, land was sold, contractors hired, a groundbreaking was held and construction started:
“And Tepper’s $825 million dream came crashing down at the Panthers planned practice facility and headquarters in Rock Hill. Tepper’s company broke ground in 2020, but the project came to a halt in March. Tepper stopped construction. It put contractors, Rock Hill and York County in a rough spot. After months of legal wrangling, Tepper’s company reached a settlement this month to repay more than $100 million in total to those entities. The practice facility and headquarters sits empty and incomplete, a steel skeleton and not much more” — WFAE.org, 12/27/22
So, build a new stadium that could cost several billion in taxpayer money? Or renovate for…$1.2 billion. Wait, what?