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Why Charlotte’s latest offer is good for the Panthers and city

From Charlotte City Council member James Mitchell, chair of the economic development committee:

I would like to address why the proposed City/Panthers stadium proposal and funding sources will ensure that the Carolina Panthers remain our hometown team.

We appreciate the recent passage of House Bill 193 that now provides the city the opportunity to utilize existing hospitality taxes (no new taxes) to reinvest in stadium improvements. Through this public/private partnership, the city would allocate $87.5 million in hospitality taxes over 10 years together with $60 million from the Panthers in cash and in-kind contributions over 10 years to fund stadium improvements, maintenance and traffic control.

Since Bank of America stadium opened 17 years ago, 24 other NFL stadiums have been built or substantially renovated. While the stadium has good bones, it is in need of a modest set of improvements including an escalator project, video boards, infrastructure and technology upgrades. The proposed investment is the lowest cost to the public of NFL stadium partnerships in the last two decades. Additionally, the proposal establishes a 16 percent participation goal for small, minority and women owned businesses.

The Panthers are not contractually tethered to Charlotte, which makes them attractive to Los Angeles and other cities. With the amount of public funding reduced, the proposal is structured to include a shorter tethering of the team to Charlotte, which is absolutely imperative as other cities try to lure away our beloved team.

The contractual tether of the Panthers to Charlotte protects the investment of public dollars in the partnership and protects the economic impact generated by the team. Without the team, the city suffers a great loss. The proposed package is our playbook for the future, preserving nearly 5,000 jobs, $636 million in economic impact and $39 million in state, county and city taxes annually, making them very valuable to our community and state.

Richardson supports the community

For over two decades the Panthers have contributed to our community pride and provided a home to many major events besides sports. We are also fortunate to have a majority owner who has stated numerous times his desire to keep the Panthers in Charlotte. Jerry Richardson’s support of the community and commitment to fans has been stellar over the years and will continue to be a remarkable example of what a team can do for its community.

The time and opportunity is now. My colleagues on City Council recognize that many people are philosophically opposed to any amount of public assistance for professional sports franchises. However the reality is that the Panthers are a proven investment, and some level of public assistance is necessary to retain our association with America’s No. 1 sport – football – and its parent organization, the NFL.

The proposal will be discussed at Monday’s City Council meeting and includes an opportunity for the public to provide comment.

For the Record offers commentaries from various sources. The views are the writer’s, and not necessarily those of the Observer editorial board.
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