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Monday, July 15, 2024

Charlotte Doles Out Over $700 Million In Upgrades for Pro Sports Teams

  • Approval for Bank of America Stadium comes months after the Hornets’ upgrades.
  • The deal essentially keeps the Panthers and Charlotte F.C. in town for 15 more years.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers have struggled for the last half-decade. Monday night, Charlotte local elected officials agreed to a deal to keep its NFL team in town for the next two decades.

The city council approved $650 million in renovations to Bank of America Stadium in a deal that keeps the Panthers and MLS team Charlotte FC in the city for the next 20 years. The lease extension allows David Tepper, who owns both franchises, to opt out after 15 years and, if he did, he would pay for any remaining debts incurred by the city. (The Panthers pay $1 in annual rent to the city to lease the land that the stadium sits on.) 

All in all, the city of Charlotte has committed nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in facility improvements for three of its pro teams so far this year. The Panthers/Charlotte FC renovations are expected to start in 2025 and be completed by ’29. 

The city is essentially paying Tepper $43.3 million per year to keep the Panthers in town for the next 15 years, which stadium-tracking website Field of Schemes says is the most expensive such deal in sports history. The previous record was held by the Baltimore Ravens at $40 million per year

The upgrades include improved seating, restrooms, scoreboard, and videoboard, among other enhancements. The money is coming from the city’s tourism and hospitality tax fund. The deal had three dissenters on the city council, including Tiawana Brown, who referenced Tepper infamously throwing a drink at a fan last year.

“It sounds real good until we get Mr. Tepper angry and then he might throw something at the city council,” Brown said. “The behavior of someone asking for $650 million is ridiculous.”

Tepper, worth more than $20 billion according to Forbes, was fined $300,000 for the drink-throwing incident.

The approval comes months after the city green-lit a new practice facility for the Hornets in March in addition to renovations to the Spectrum Center, which are expected to be completed by 2026. The city of Charlotte will spend $30 million on the practice facility and $30 million toward the renovations on the arena.

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