New Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper says he expects to overhaul the business side of the organization to create a more open, family atmosphere to avoid troubles like those under previous owner Jerry Richardson.
A day after completing his NFL record $2.2 billion purchase of the Panthers, Tepper answered questions from reporters at Bank of America Stadium. But first, he set some goals.
“Listen, it's a new day for this organization and hopefully we'll have bigger and better things to come, including Super Bowl championships in the future,” Tepper said.
To get there, he wants to modernize the Panthers' facilities, which he says are out of date compared to those of some other NFL teams. He wants to build a new practice facility — likely near the Panthers stadium. And as for the stadium, he said it's located in the most logical place. But he expects to discuss improvements with city officials.
Tepper says new investments are needed to improve conditions for players and the experience for fans. He noted that a recent Supreme Court case clears the way for expanded sports betting, and he worries that will hurt attendance when it comes to the Carolinas.
“It's inevitable,” he said. “When we're thinking about these things we have to take that into consideration because, you know, I want to make sure fans are in that building and cheering this team and I don't want fans not in that building.”
Tepper hasn't had any lengthy conversations yet with state or city officials about possible public money for facilities. But he says spending tax dollars — and by that he means tourism tax revenues, not property taxes — makes sense.
If the stadium is improved, says Tepper, there will likely be more tax dollars generated and an opportunity to split those tax dollars.
“That's not taxing people who aren't using those facilities but they're using them,” he said. “They're using things that I'm helping bring here. That's the partnership.”
Tepper was candid and seemed comfortable with reporters — in contrast to Richardson, who rarely stood before the cameras.
Richardson announced he was selling the team late last year after he was accused of sexual and workplace misconduct by Panthers' employees. Last week, the NFL fined him $2.75 million dollars — the league’s biggest fine ever.
Tepper said several times he wants to remake the Panthers' organization to ensure that problems like those won't happen again.
“I think there's been an atmosphere where this organization — I'm talking more the business side — wasn't allowed to be a team and was not allowed to go off and talk about things. There's going to be no impediment to that in the future.”
A final question focused on Richardson's legacy and specifically a large statue of the former owner that stands outside the stadium.
“I'm contractually obligated to keep that statue as it is,” Tepper said.
The press conference ended quickly after that answer, with no explanation of what's in the contract.