Tom Sorensen

Panthers fans should keep calm and carry on. Moving an NFL team is not that easy.

Many of us get out of bed in the morning and look for a reason to panic. Oh, no, the Panthers are leaving Charlotte.

Also, the sky is falling and the earth, as Boston Celtics’ guard Kyrie Irving claims, is flat.

The San Diego Chargers were allowed to leave San Diego because their stadium was terrible. The Oakland Raiders will move to Las Vegas because their stadium was even worse. The St. Louis Rams were allowed to move from St. Louis to Los Angeles because a really rich guy wanted them to.

Los Angeles, the town without a team, gleamed, and Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke craved it. Jerry Richardson thought that the Chargers and Raiders, both owned by long-time NFL families, should take precedence. He flew from city to city to lobby NFL owners. Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones was in the Kroenke camp. He picked up a phone. Kroenke, who had owned the Rams since 2010, had lots of money. Money prevailed.

But moving a team is not easy. Jacksonville, Fla., still has an NFL team, and I’ve been to parties with more people than the Jaguars used to attract to home games.

The Panthers almost certainly will remain in Charlotte when the new owner buys them. Richardson had always planned to sell. The capital gains tax would have created a prohibitive expense for his family. Yet he certainly would have liked the timing of the sale to be his idea.

Who will buy the Panthers? Most of the names that have been floated belong to rich Charlotteans and celebrities, not that there’s much of a difference.

Michael Jordan? He owns the Charlotte Hornets. His team’s malaise has to drive him nuts. I’d think he’d fix them first.

Steph Curry, son of Charlotte and star of the Golden State Warriors, has expressed interest. That would be interesting. The team could rely on Steph’s money and the instincts of his father, Dell, or Dell’s money and Steph’s instincts. Works either way.

Bruton Smith and his son Marcus Smith are a possibility. If you’re ranking the most popular sports in and around Charlotte, NASCAR is at best seventh. The NFL is first. Marcus is deeply concerned about the experience of fans. He’s an interesting guy.

There’s a good chance the new majority owner will be somebody you don’t know, and that he (or she) will come from a place other than Charlotte.

There’s little chance the team will play there.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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