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Panthers give city more rent-free days at Bank of America Stadium

The city of Charlotte will make its final $23.5 million payment for renovations at Bank of America Stadium a year early, under an agreement with the Carolina Panthers.
The city of Charlotte will make its final $23.5 million payment for renovations at Bank of America Stadium a year early, under an agreement with the Carolina Panthers. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The city of Charlotte has reached a deal with the Carolina Panthers to have more opportunities to use Bank of America Stadium rent free, which could allow the city to host more international soccer matches and college football games.

In exchange for having a larger period of rent-free days, the city agreed to speed up a $23.5 million payment it owes the team by a year.

In 2013, the City Council approved an $87.5 million agreement with the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a six-year “tether” to keep the team in Charlotte. Most of the money – $75 million – is going to stadium improvements.

The final city payment of $23.5 million was due by Dec. 1 2017. The city will now make that payment in December 2016.

The earlier payment will allow the team to finish its stadium improvements early, including work on the Level 100 concourse, the city said.

The 2013 agreement also gave the city access to four rent-free days at the stadium a year, a value of about $250,000 for each event. The Belk Bowl also doesn’t have to pay rent, but the ACC Championship game does pay.

The city could use the rent-free days from Jan. 15 to June 30, but the new agreement will extend that period through Sept. 7. That’s just before the start of the NFL season.

The city said having another nine weeks will make it easier to attract international soccer and college football games to the stadium. The college football season usually starts Labor Day weekend. The rent-free days last until 2022.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the agreement Monday. The city said by financing the last payment now, it can save more than $5 million due to low interest rates.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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