The Carolina Panthers have begun work on a temporary practice facility behind Bank of America Stadium that will include a climate-controlled bubble, a team spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.
The efforts, which began this week, were first spotted by uptown Charlotte resident Andy Giordano, who sent the Observer photos of the site as the artificial turf on one field was excavated, and the sod on the two natural-grass fields was uprooted.
The spokesman could not confirm a timeline for the construction of the bubble. But Panthers owner David Tepper has said that he wanted the team practicing under the covered facility by the 2019 preseason, which begins in August.
Carolina was one of only a few teams that did not have an indoor practice facility during the 2018 season, at times resorting to holding workouts in Charlotte Convention Center ballrooms during inclement weather.
The bubble will be a temporary improvement as Tepper’s infrastructural plans unfold over the next 5-10 years.
South Carolina officials hope the Panthers will build a long-term, mixed-use practice facility, headquarters and campus in the Rock Hill area and have even considered changing state tax laws to woo Tepper and his team.
On Tuesday, House and Senate finance panels in the S.C. legislature passed identical bills to offer the Panthers job tax and development credits if the team moves its operations to York County. The proposal also would let the team avoid paying city taxes and business license fees, according to a report by the State newspaper.
Tepper and his staff met with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster earlier this month. McMaster also confirmed that the parties had held a series of “secret meetings” over the last several months regarding year-round practice facilities and a new team headquarters.
For the immediate future, the Panthers will practice in the bubble.