CHARLOTTE, N.C. –A well-known Charlotte businessman, Felix Sabates confirmed to NBC Charlotte on Thursday that he is heading up a group of five investors who want to buy the Panthers and, more importantly, keep the Panthers in Charlotte.
Sabates owns a Mercedes dealership and is a minority owner of the Hornets.
His move comes after current owner Jerry Richardson said he was putting the team up for sale just days after Richardson became the target of an investigation into allegations he sexually harassed some female Panthers employees and had used a racial slur.
In a phone interview today he said a new stadium would be crucial for any venture to succeed.
“From a financial point of view, we have to generate revenue,” Sabates said.
He said a new, bigger stadium would attract a Super Bowl and the Final Four.
He doesn't believe a new stadium would have to be the size of the home of the Dallas Cowboys, rather he envisions a stadium similar to the new US Bank Stadium where the Minnesota Vikings play.
He says he doubts the state will be much help in a private/public funding arrangement, meaning it could fall to Charlotte taxpayers to foot some of the cost.
Some residents like Michelle Blair are not in favor of that idea.
“No, I think we should keep the stadium we have,” Blair said.
Barry Moore, another local resident agreed saying these are millionaires and billionaires making multi-billion dollar deals, so they should be able to pay for a stadium.”
A spokesperson for Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said the Mayor would have no comment because at this point the team has not been sold and there has been no request made for public financing so there is nothing to talk about.
Braxton Winston who is one of the newest members of the City Council said if a stadium deal would benefit Charlotte and could provide a trickle-down effect that would benefit everyone in the city, then it should be looked at.
“It would be worth exploring positive partnerships that new business people coming into the community might present themselves with,” said Winston.
The NFL owners would have to approve of any sale and the new ownership.