The timing would be better if the Panthers were one of four NFL teams still playing meaningful football. But and most of you dont want to hear this there are reasons the city should consider the teams request for $125 million in public funding.
The foremost is that investing public money ties the team to Charlotte. Jerry Richardson, who owns the Panthers, is 76 and has a borrowed heart. He has said he wont sell the team, and he wont.
What happens to the team when Richardson is gone is conjecture. Charlottes $125 million investment would make the team much more difficult to sell and move.
So, meeting with the City Council Monday night was not a mistake.
Meeting in closed session was a mistake. Stationing police officers outside the room in which they met to keep the media away was a mistake. Leaving the room via a private exit and scooting away in an SUV before reporters could ask a question was a mistake.
Now, meeting in closed session and stationing officers outside might have been the call of the city and not the team.
But avoiding questions was a Panthers decision.
Theres a precedent. Bob Johnson, the first owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, spoke in a room one afternoon at the Charlotte Convention Center. Security guards were posted outside, offensive-line like, to protect him from curious and potentially evil reporters.
Johnson is the worst owner of a professional sports franchise this city has ever had. Theres some company a fellow owner should not seek.
On Tuesday the Panthers had an opportunity to rectify their Monday evening error.
The occasion was the introduction of new general manager Dave Gettleman. A standing room only crowd of press, radio, TV and Internet news gatherers filled the room. Richardson and Danny Morrison, the teams president, sat in the front row.
Richardson and Morrison, who met with the city Monday, did not attempt to hide their true identities by wearing trench coats pulled up high and hats pulled down low. Richardson appeared to be in a good mood. He joked with me, I think, about a criticism of him Ive made in several columns.
Theres a hallway to which the media does not have access. Richardson sat in the chair closest to the hallway door and Morrison sat in the chair on the right of him. As soon as the news conference ended they walked into the hallway.
I understand that the occasion was about the new general manager and not the owner and president.
But the Panthers hired Gettleman six days before his introductory news conference. The team tells me he had business in New York late last week he previously worked for the New York Giants drove to Charlotte Sunday and worked in Charlotte all day Monday.
I believe the Panthers. But a cynic might suggest that they held the upbeat news conference with the upbeat new general manager Tuesday to engage media who otherwise would have reported about the $125 million.
Also, Richardson and Morrison could have taken questions after the news conference.
Colleague Scott Fowler and I accidentally ran into Richardson and Morrison later at lunch. They were cordial. But we have no quotes to share.
The Miami Dolphins are looking for up to $200 million in public money to upgrade Sun Life Stadium. The owner and CEO held a news conference Monday.
The problem with the absence of information is that it creates a void. The problem with a void is that people fill it with rumors, conspiracy theories and innuendo. Example: The Panthers are moving to Los Angeles. The truth: They arent, not while Richardson is alive.
The Panthers are a private entity. What they do is their business until they ask for public money.
Then its ours.