It’s been almost two months since the Carolina Panthers hinted at wanting public subsidies to upgrade their privately built stadium, so you know what that means it’s time for: anonymously sourced rumors that the team is going to move to Los Angeles!
High-powered California political officials have been courting Carolina owner Jerry Richardson in the hopes of bringing the Panthers to Los Angeles with no luck to date, said one source familiar with the discussions.
Richardson has been polite and steadfast that he is committed to Charlotte and is not moving the Panthers.
The only scenario in which he would listen would be if Charlotte balked at helping him with some of the stadium renovations the Panthers have been seeking, the source said.
Richardson doubled down on the non-threat threat on Sunday, saying, “It has always been my desire that the Carolinas would be the home of our Panthers,” which, you know.
As the L.A. Times’ Sam Farmer notes, this is common practice for sports team owners:
This is a telegraphed pass. The way for teams to fire a shot over the bow of their home cities is to bring up L.A. – or have it brought up for them. It’s no accident that in his statement Richardson doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of leaving. He leaves that door unlocked, by simply saying that it’s his desire to stay.
Last week, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis expressed his willingness to consider putting tax money into Panthers stadium upgrades, and local officials are already arguing about whether only Charlotte taxpayers should be taxed to pay for it, or whether those in surrounding counties should be, too. In other words, all is proceeding right according to schedule. I’d set the over/under for Roger Goodell to fly into town and give his boilerplate “If you want to keep your team, you’d better provide some stadium money” speech at, oh, April 2014?