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'Break the silence and be transparent' | Panthers owner David Tepper hasn't responded to new offer, SC leaders say

In a public letter, Congressman Ralph Norman said unless Tepper speaks out, people will assume the Carolina Panthers Training Facility project is dead.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — U.S. Representative Ralph Norman is the latest leader to speak regarding the Carolina Panthers training facility project in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

The project has now been on hold for more than a month, and despite receiving a new funding offer from both the City of Rock Hill and York County, Panthers owner David Tepper has not responded.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: SC senator sounds off about paused construction project by Carolina Panthers in Rock Hill

In a public letter released Sunday night, Norman called on Tepper to “break the silence and be transparent about what’s happening from his perspective.”

The major construction site on 240 acres has sat idle for weeks, and hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake.

“The longer it goes, people will assume that it’s just dead,” Norman said. “The taxpayers deserve a lot better than what they’re getting. To go this far for something this big… something’s not right.”

The project was first paused in early March. WCNC Charlotte later learned Rock Hill failed to secure $225 million in bonds to pay for roads, sidewalks and other public infrastructure on the site.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Rock Hill has yet to issue $225M in bonds for Panthers project

Two weeks later, York County and then Rock Hill passed resolutions saying if the Panthers paid for the public infrastructure, it would get the money back in tax credits.

“Whenever we issued the resolution, we thought we would hear something immediately, and it’s just been nothing,” York County Councilmember Brandon Guffey, who helped pass the alternative financing resolution, said. “I think resentment is growing daily, not just with the officials, but with the community itself.”

The construction first broke ground in 2020. It was anticipated that the first phase would be completed in 2023, but even if the project resumes, it seems unlikely the deadline will be met.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 'Freaking out right now': Contractors worried about the future of Panthers facility in Rock Hill

“If you see things taken off the site, that’s an indication that it’s gone,” Norman, who’s also a businessman and real estate developer, said. “To my knowledge, that hasn’t happened yet.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster addressed the paused facility at a news conference Tuesday. McMaster said he's spoken to Tepper and says he hopes both parties can come to an agreement.

"The state has done its part and we would encourage everyone to resolve whatever differences and let's get moving," McMaster said. "We want the Panthers to do the right thing."

Norman warns preserving the project is in the best interest of all involved, and he’s asking Tepper to speak up if something can be done at the federal level to save the project.

“If the lawyers get involved, it will be a long, drawn-out process -- unless it gets solved," Norman said. "And that’s our hope and our prayer."

A spokesperson for Tepper Sports and Entertainment said the organization did not have a comment.

“I think silent treatment is always bothersome,” Guffey said. “We anticipated to get a positive response right away, and with nothing, that’s automatically a negative sign. And to not get an explanation with it is even more worrisome.”

Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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