Politics & Government

Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Knights just scored a big break on their property taxes

The Carolina Panthers as well as the Charlotte Knights will get a new tax break.
The Carolina Panthers as well as the Charlotte Knights will get a new tax break. Observer file

The Carolina Panthers and the Charlotte Knights will get big tax breaks after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper let a bill become law without his signature Tuesday.

The Panthers, which recently sold for $2.275 billion, stand to save more than $350,000 a year. The Knights could save more than $170,000.

Together the city and county would lose nearly $524,000 in property tax revenue.

Senate Bill 561 became law early Tuesday when Cooper declined to sign or veto it.

The bill exempts entities from property taxes on public land leased at below-market value. The Panthers lease 34 acres from the city for $1 a year. The Knights lease land from Mecklenburg County. The Panthers have tried to get exempted from the tax for years.

The Panthers pay property taxes on the team-owned Bank of America Stadium.

But under a deal in place for 20 years, they also pay property taxes on the land they lease for the stadium and practice field, land with a tax value of $27.6 million.

Tax records show the Panthers paid $357,166 in 2017 property taxes on the land they lease. Those taxes are separate from the $1.8 million in property taxes the team paid on the value of Bank of America Stadium, a building the team owns.

The Knights paid $171,156 last year on the value of the land they lease for BB&T Ballpark, valued at $12.5 million.

Supporters say the tax is unfair because the teams pay taxes on land they don't own. Critics say the legislation would benefit wealthy teams at the expense of taxpayers.

Rep. Bill Brawley, a Matthews Republican, told lawmakers this month that the Panthers are paying "significant property tax on property they do not own."

A spokesman for the Panthers could not be reached Tuesday.

The tax breaks for the teams come after both the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County raised property taxes for the first time in years.

Jim Morrill, 704-358-5059; @jimmorrill
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