The Charlotte City Council this afternoon reached a tentative deal with the Carolina Panthers to spend $143 million on improvements at Bank of America Stadium. In exchange, the Panthers agree to stay in Charlotte for at least 15 years. Without this deal, City Attorney Bob Hagemann says the city could lose the team at any time.
"It's a lot of money, but if the public would look at other NFL stadium deals in recent years, this is relatively modest and we think this is a very good deal to keep such an important asset – one of 32 NFL franchises – here in North Carolina," he said.
In addition to covering half the cost of stadium renovations, the city will agree to spend $1 million a year on stadium maintenance and cover the cost of traffic control on Panthers game days. That alone is about $250,000 each
game season, which the Panthers have traditionally covered.
For its part, the team will pay $78 million toward stadium improvements and a maintenance fund over the next 15 years and let the city use Bank of America stadium free of charge for large events each year, including the college football Belk Bowl. Hagemann says the city will pay its share of stadium improvements by doubling the tax people pay on prepared food and beverages in Mecklenburg County.
"Charlotte has a history of using taxes that fall on some relatively heavy way on visitors to our community – and the food and beverage tax, although we recognize our citizens pay it too, is one of those taxes. It makes sense. We think there's a nexus – a rational nexus between this tax and the benefit to our community economically and psychologically of having the panthers here."
Raising the restaurant tax will require legislative approval. So too will the $62.5 million the city and the Panthers plan to ask the state to kick in for the stadium deal.
Hagemann defends the city's decision to keep its deliberations – and negotiations with the Panthers – private until now, saying it was the best way to get a good deal for tax payers.