Charlotte taxpayers will pick up nearly two-thirds of the $147 million tab to renovate and maintain Bank of America Stadium.
The Charlotte City Council voted unanimously Monday night to give the Panthers $87.5 million it will collect through a tax on prepared food over the next 10 years.
In exchange for public money, the Panthers promise to stay in Charlotte for at least six years, with financial penalties that kick in if the team leaves within ten years. City staff call the deal a "tether" that will keep another city from poaching the team.
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson told the city council he has no desire to move the team. But he's also stipulated that the team be sold within two years of his death.
After the council's unanimous vote Richardson thanked them and quipped, "the biggest and best tether you got, Mayor, is me. I'm 76 and if you really want a tether, say a prayer for me tonight."
"We got some oatmeal in the back, a treadmill, we got all kinds of stuff," replied Mayor Anthony Foxx, with a laugh.
Richardson had a heart transplant in 2009. The team plans to start making publicly-funded stadium improvements – including escalators and video boards – in 2014.