The NFL wants the Carolina Panthers to stay in Charlotte.
As to whether the NFL thinks it will take a new stadium for the next owners to keep the team here, a league official said that’s a matter for a later day.
Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, cited the Panthers’ success on the field and otherwise as reasons for Jerry Richardson’s successors not to relocate.
“Our first choice is always for franchise stability. The franchise in Carolina has been successful both on the field (and) from a business perspective, as far as community impact,” Lockhart said Thursday during a conference call with reporters. “So we think it’s very important that franchises, particularly ones that have achieved the success of the Panthers, stay in the market where they’re playing.”
But Lockhart wasn’t interested in discussing the merits of Bank of America Stadium, the Panthers’ 22-year-old building that is paid for and has been recently renovated, but lacks the bells and whistles of many newer stadiums across the league.
“I think that’s a question for down the road,” Lockhart said. “I think we’ve got some issues we’ve got to face before we go there.”
With Richardson selling the club amid an NFL investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct involving Richardson, Lockhart laid out the criteria the NFL requires of a new owner.
Lockhart said a new controlling owner has to:
▪ Acquire at least 30 percent of the equity in the club, and typically has “substantially more” than that.
▪ Demonstrate the financial wherewithal to cover long-term operating costs, including planning for capital needs.
▪ Serve as the sole controlling owner who votes for the club on league business.
▪ Maintain a debt ceiling of no more than $250 million on team-related expenditures.
▪ Limit his or her ownership group to a total of 25 individual partners.
▪ Be approved by a vote of three-quarters of the league’s owners.