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Former Carolina Panthers leader to help recruit high-profile sporting events to area

Danny Morrison, a Burlington native who graduated from the University of North Carolina, was formerly president of the Carolina Panthers, Southern Conference commissioner and athletics director at Wofford and Texas Christian.
Danny Morrison, a Burlington native who graduated from the University of North Carolina, was formerly president of the Carolina Panthers, Southern Conference commissioner and athletics director at Wofford and Texas Christian. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Former Carolina Panthers President Danny Morrison has been named the new executive director of the Charlotte Sports Foundation, a nonprofit that recruits high-profile sporting events to the region. Morrison assumes his new role May 1.

Morrison succeeds Will Webb, who joined the group’s predecessor organization, Charlotte Collegiate Football, in 2010 when Charlotte was preparing for the first ACC football championship, according to a statement from the group Tuesday.

After serving as Panthers’ president for about eight years, Morrison abruptly stepped down from the role in February 2017. For the last few years, Morrison, formerly athletic director at Wofford College, has taught in the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sports Management department at the University of South Carolina.

Morrison, who oversaw years of renovation work at Bank of America Stadium, will be tasked with bringing major sporting events to Charlotte, and specifically to the stadium, as the foundation’s new president.

In 2013, the city of Charlotte agreed to provide the Panthers with $87.5 million in public funds to help renovate the stadium. As a perk of that deal, the city has five days per year during which it’s allowed to book events at the stadium free of rent. The Belk College Kickoff and Belk Bowl, which the foundation hosts, are used as rent-free days, for instance.

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“The work that’s been done with Charlotte Sports Foundation since its inception has been remarkable,” Morrison told the Observer Tuesday. “The foundation is strong, and there’s opportunity for continued growth.”

Morrison, who previously served on the foundation’s board, said that the first thing he is going to do when he assumes his new role is listen and learn what the foundation is currently working on. After that, Morrison said he will grow relationships with college sports officials by visiting ACC and SEC offices, meeting with athletic directors and visiting college campuses around the Carolinas.

Webb will continue on in a full-time advisory role with the foundation through April 2020, “working alongside Morrison to ensure a smooth transition,” the group said.

The foundation has landed a number of large-scale sporting events with Webb at the helm over the years, including a contract for the ACC title game through 2030. Under Webb, the foundation also partnered with the Charlotte Hornets to land the NBA All-Star Game, and also helped recruit and plan the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.

“The great thing about the sports community in Charlotte is the harmony, and how well the various sports teams work together — from the Panthers to the Hornets to the Knights to the golf community,” Morrison said.

The foundation, founded in 2013, this month said that the 2018 Belk College Kickoff, Belk Bowl and ACC Football Championship had a combined economic impact of approximately $96.1 million, which includes $51.9 million in direct visitor spending.

In an email, ACC Commissioner John Swofford lauded the job Webb has done leading the foundation, and called him “a true friend of the ACC.”

“As we look to the future, the organization will be in outstanding hands in Danny Morrison. He’s a proven administrator with tremendous experiences and I look forward to working with him,” Swofford said.

As the retail and sports business reporter for the Observer, Katie Peralta covers everything from grocery-store competition in Charlotte to tax breaks for pro sports teams. She is a Chicago native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame.
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