Carolina Panthers pursue $62 million in state support

Carolina Panthers pursue $62 million in state support

A view from the upper reaches of the Bank of America stadium with the Charlotte skyline in the background. The stadium was built entirely with the money paid for Permanent Seat Licenses (PSLs) in the first years of the Panthers' NFL franchise. GARY O'BRIEN - gobrien@charlotteobserver.com

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by JIM MORRILL & STEVE HARRISON / Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 8:09 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson met with Gov. Pat McCrory and House Speaker Thom Tillis on Monday in pursuit of as much as $62 million in state money to help renovate Bank of America Stadium.

The Panthers are looking for money from the city of Charlotte and the state to help offset the planned $250 million project.

Richardson, team President Danny Morrison and their attorney met with the officials Monday, team spokesman Charlie Dayton confirmed.

The Panthers have asked the city for $125 million in public money. City council members have tentatively endorsed raising the local prepared food and beverage tax from 1 percent to 2 percent.

The Panthers have said the team could split the other $125 million with the state.

How that would go over in Raleigh is unclear.

The state budget is tight. And McCrory has said no new money is “falling from the sky.”

Even so, at least one lawmaker appears open to the idea.

“I support sports and entertainment,” Democratic Sen. Malcolm Graham said Monday. “I believe that’s an important role for the state to play. It’s an important part of the state’s economy.”

Graham, who chairs Mecklenburg County’s delegation, met with Morrison and other Panther officials last week, along with two city officials. He said the Panthers broached their plans to ask the state for around $62 million.

“It was just talking numbers,” Graham said. “We discussed a number of things. I made no commitment.”

Meanwhile, Charlotte Chamber President Bob Morgan said he and many of his members support a public-private partnership to renovate the stadium.

He said many people believe the Panthers are extremely important to the city. When asked whether the Chamber supports a proposed increase in the prepared food and beverage tax, Morgan declined to go into specifics.

“That’s for the city to determine,” he said.

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