In the wake of Panthers owner David Tepper saying yesterday that he was more than content to stay at home and practice near Bank of America Stadium instead of building a practice facility rumored to be a project worth over $1B in South Carolina, the State Senate voted 27-15 today to pass a bill that will give the Panthers over $110m in tax breaks over the next 15 years to build that facility – which may house an orthopedic sports medicine facility employing about 200 people and the team’s indoor practice facility that would seat up to 10,000 fans, as well as feature outdoor practice fields, training facilities and team offices.
This would be for the practice and team headquarters facilities – games will still be played on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium in uptown Charlotte – but Tepper wanted to go to South Carolina for this facility to truly embraces the ‘Two States, One Team’ moniker.
“We’d like to be there [and] hopefully they help us out there,” Tepper said Wednesday after being honored at West Charlotte High School about the bill being held up. “But I could be with a [practice] bubble and a cafeteria in Charlotte, too.”
“So it’s up to them. We’d like to go there, hopefully we can. I said the first day when I was in the building, I’d like this to be a true two state team and that’s part of that. I think most people of South Carolina want this and I think it will get done.”
The House in March voted 90-25 to pass bill H. 4243 and after the Senate’s approval today, the bill will now go back to the House for final approval.
The bill was debated furiously over the past few days in the Senate, with Dick Harpootlian (D-Richland) in particular arguing against the bill, including a long discussion today before the bill finally passed.
“We are supposed to protect the taxpayers from getting ripped off,” said the Democrat from Columbia earlier this week after he paid for his own research into the economic benefits of the bill and found them to be much less than originally estimated by the state. “We are the only people standing between them and this billionaire taking advantage of them.”
The facility is expected to house not only the Panthers themselves, but restaurants, hotels and many other multi-use facilities.
“There’s a misunderstanding that we are building a little practice facility,” Mark Hart, the Panthers’ vice president for development, told The State last month. “But our new headquarters is just a portion of the project we want to build. . . . [Tepper] is thinking big.”