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Panthers' Rock Hill training facility construction 'paused'

"Our partners have been unable to contribute the agreed upon investment," Tepper Sports said in a statement Monday.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Construction on the new Carolinas Panthers training facility in Rock Hill, South Carolina is being "paused," WCNC Charlotte has independently confirmed.

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has already invested $170 million in the project, according to a statement from a spokesman for Tepper Sports and Entertainment on Monday.

“Our partners have been unable to contribute the agreed upon investment to fund the construction of the public infrastructure,” the statement read. “Given the economic realities, the difficult but prudent decision has been made to pause the project. The ongoing work will continue with our partners to find an economically acceptable solution for all parties to continue this project in Rock Hill.”

A source familiar with the situation told WCNC Charlotte the city of Rock Hill "did not fulfill their initial payment" by March 2021 and Tepper Sports has been "unable to gain the funding" related to infrastructure such as roads, power, sewage and water.

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

Mark Hart, the Panthers' chief operating officer, sent a letter last May to York County manager David Hudspeth asking for help after the city of Rock Hill failed to secure infrastructure bonds, according to a report from the Associated Press.

“Until we have a path to the $225,000,000 in bonds proceeds there is a high risk necessary infrastructure objectives will not be met,” Hart wrote at the time.

Per the letter, the bonds were to be issued on Oct. 31, 2020, but the deadline was later pushed back to Feb. 26, 2021. However, after more than a year the bonds have still not been secured.

The public infrastructure includes roads, sewage, water and power to the facility.

The source said the construction crews on the site will be paid what they are due plus one additional week.

The city of Rock Hill maintains they have met their financial obligations to the project.

"We've met all of our obligations required under our agreement," Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys told WCNC Charlotte's Indira Eskieva. "I'm not aware of anything that we feel like we didn't do right or didn't perform." 

A York County spokesperson told WCNC Charlotte the county is "aware of the announcement by the Carolina Panthers" but the county is "not responsible for funding the infrastructure at the site."

Tepper Sports and Entertainment said it hopes to continue working with partners to find a solution -- a goal Rock Hill officials say they support too.

"We’ll continue to honor our agreement with the Panthers and we fully support the construction of this building, as we have from day one, and we'll look forward to seeing it come to completion in time," Gettys said.

The Panthers' move to South Carolina was made official in June 2020, when South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill giving the team roughly $115 million in tax breaks to relocate across the state line.

"At the state level, Governor McMaster has done everything necessary to keep this project moving forward," McMaster's communications director Brian Symmes said in a statement Tuesday. "He’s confident that the locals and the Panthers will quickly resolve any outstanding issues and that construction will resume."

In July 2020, construction began on the proposed site.

In December of that year, Rock Hill officials approved final documents for the Carolina Panthers' new practice facility, which is expected to also include the relocation of the team's headquarters across the state line. 

The facility grounds are located just south of Cherry Road near Interstate 77 and will include a practice facility, offices, restaurants, apartments, hotels, retail and outdoor entertainment. The site will become home to Tepper Sports & Entertainment.

RELATED: Panthers release look at new Rock Hill headquarters

The Carolina Panthers will continue to play their games at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

RELATED: Rock Hill officials approve final documents for new Panthers practice facility

According to the Panthers, the indoor practice field will host athletic events, concerts and other corporate events. The indoor training space will also include amenities for the players including a weight room, locker room and hydrotherapy room. 

Construction on the 240-acre practice facility was scheduled to be complete by 2023.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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