CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Within the past week, the three leading prospective buyers have all toured Bank Of America Stadium and met with Carolina Panthers officials as the sale of the team moves forward.
The front-runner is now thought to be David Tepper, whose net worth is estimated at $11 billion.
Tepper is currently a partial owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and is a known commodity to the other team owners in the league who will have to approve any final sale.
Ben Navarro, a Charleston, S.C. businessman has also visited with team officials this week, as has Alan Kestenbaum, who is a Miami businessman.
Many insiders believe Kestenbaum is in second place behind Tepper.
Feliz Sabates is a Charlotte businessman and part owner of the Hornets. He has been trying to put together a group of local investors.
It is not clear if Sabates has put in a bid or if his group is trying to partner with one of the frontrunners.
Charlotte Chamber of Commerce CEP Bob Morgan told NBC Charlotte on Wednesday that the city, county and state officials must do everything they can to ensure whoever buys the Panthers, keeps the team in Charlotte.
Morgan said that could include a public/private partnership.
“We had one five years ago for renovations of the stadium," Morgan said. "Maybe that’s in our future again. We don’t know.”
County Commissioner Pat Cotham says she wants the Panthers to stay as well but says it’s a city issue and not a county issue, which is why she says she opposed the county paying for renovations to Memorial Stadium in an effort to bring in Major League Soccer.
Cotham told NBC Charlotte, “I thought if we did that, it would open the door for the Panthers and the Hornets and I did not want to go there.”
If the team is sold by the end of this month it is possible the other team owners could vote on the sale at their meeting in May in Atlanta.