Welcome to Charlotte, David Tepper. We’re glad you’re here, though we admit to a touch of trepidation: We don’t really know you, so we don’t know what to expect. Given how much Charlotteans love this city and our football, and how much we care about our image, we’re excited and a hair nervous about this marriage.
We know we can’t have a prenuptial agreement, but we do want to let you know our hopes and expectations. You see, in Charlotte over the years we’ve had an aloof owner (Jerry Richardson), an embarrassing owner (George Shinn) and a self-absorbed, bottom-line-only owner (Bob Johnson). Though each was hailed as a local hero at one point for bringing major league sports to Charlotte, each ended badly. We hope you’ll avoid their three main respective shortcomings.
▪ Don’t be aloof. Invest in the city. Be a leader, not just of the team, but in the community, in philanthropic circles, in helping tackle our biggest challenges.
Making Charlotte your personal home would be a good start. (We never did feel the love from Hornets co-owner Ray Wooldridge.) Charlotte was built by business. More than that, Charlotte was built by individual business people who cared not only about their company but also about their community. They knew that the two could grow hand-in-hand. Being a business owner in Charlotte at its best means accepting the mantle of leadership beyond your office walls.
It’s also important for you to be visible in another way. As a Pittsburgh Steelers co-owner you were no doubt a fan of the team’s “Steel Curtain” defensive line. But Jerry Richardson erected a steel curtain around himself for years while questionable things were going on behind the scenes. You should tear down the wall that has sometimes separated the Panthers from the community.
▪ Don’t be embarrassing. Shinn’s reputation was ruined by his sexual trysts, and of course Richardson was forced to sell over allegations of harassment. We hope you’ll be the kind of owner who represents our city well and matches its demeanor. While you should be visible, we don’t need a camera-hungry owner like Mark Cuban. Just be a good businessman who is willing to be innovative but doesn’t make it all about himself. Win, and do it with class.
▪ Work with us. We know you didn’t become a billionaire 11 times over by going easy at the negotiating table. But our politicians can be just a tad overeager to please sports owners, and it makes us taxpayers nervous. We understand you might want improvements to Bank of America Stadium, and we are willing to help, to a point. But please don’t sour the relationship right off the bat by trying to take us to the cleaners.
Do all that and we should get along fine. Oh and one last thing: After our time with Bob Johnson’s Bobcats, please don’t change the Panthers’ name to the Teppers.