The Charlotte Business Journal has more details on the Carolina Panthers stadium renovation talks, and it turns out that owner Jerry Richardson now plans to ask for $125 million in city money, plus $62.5 million from the state. In exchange, the Panthers would commit to remaining in town for … ten whole years. Even though the increased city restaurant tax to pay for the renovations would last for 15 years.
Asking for nearly $200 million in renovations for a stadium that is privately owned and is only 16 years old might raise some eyebrows, but everybody’s favorite owner-friendly stadium consultant Marc Ganis is on hand to explain why this is totally reasonable:
Bank of America Stadium could last 35 years, “but it must have a major upgrade in this 20-year cycle,” said Marc Ganis, a consultant to franchises in the NFL and other sports. “The cycles are shortening. It’s not that the concrete is worse, it’s not that the seats aren’t built as well, it’s the revenue-enhancement technology and fan expectations that are moving at an accelerated rate.”
In case you’ve never run across the term “revenue-enhancement technology” (and are picturing something along the lines of this), that means “stuff that lets the team sell more crap, mostly advertisements but more overpriced food wouldn’t hurt either.” And “fan expectations” translates as “people want to have a giant video screen as clear as their hi-def TVs back home, especially since their seats are probably so far from the field that they can’t tell who’s playing (not that anybody can identify three-quarters of the people in a football game anyway).”
The key word in Ganis’ quote, though, is “must.” As in, okay, the Panthers want all this stuff so they can make more money — why, again, should the city and state be paying for it? Just because Richardson could move the team to Los Angeles if he wanted (and be stuck with owning an empty stadium back in Charlotte, and all that’s if you even think an L.A. NFL stadium has much chance of happening anytime soon in the first place).
Still, North Carolina lawmakers appear to be taking these demands seriously — all of which just goes to show that the NFL would be absolutely crazy to let a team move to L.A. anytime soon, since the threat of L.A. is proving way more lucrative than an actual L.A. team would be. The Minnesota Vikings already got a huge pile of public money by waving the L.A. threat flag, and now we have the Panthers, the San Diego Chargers, the Buffalo Bills, the Miami Dolphins, the Oakland Raiders, and probably a few other teams I’m forgetting all trying to do the same thing. They can’t all move to L.A. at once, of course — which is why it’s important for the NFL to make sure nobody moves there, or else the threat won’t work anymore. This hostage-taking business is harder than it looks.