NC house bill would leave Panthers stadium plans $34m short

The North Carolina house of representatives introduced a bill yesterday to allow Charlotte to use restaurant taxes to fund renovations to the Carolina Panthers‘ stadium — but there’s a catch. Instead of allowing the city to double its existing restaurant tax from 1% to 2% as it was requesting, the house bill would only allow the use of existing restaurant tax money for the Panthers. Which, according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which collects the restaurant tax, would only leave enough money to pay for $110 million in stadium upgrades, not the $144 million that the Panthers have asked for from the city.

Also, that restaurant tax money is currently being set aside for upgrades to the city’s convention center, so if it’s spent on the Panthers, it would no longer be available for that. (The Charlotte Observer reports that bill sponsor Rep. Ruth Samuelson “acknowledged that with less money, the city would have to make choices.”) Plus, there’s still no word on the $62.5 million in direct funding that the Panthers have asked for from the state, though Samuelson indicated that it could come directly from the governor’s office.

Right now, this leaves the Panthers with at least a $34 million budget hole, and Charlotte with a good bit more than that if the city doesn’t want to empty its pockets for the team. One Charlotte councilmember suggested maybe the city could offer a smaller tax hike instead — say, 0.5% over 15 years instead of 1% over 30 — but given that Samuelson said “there’s no stomach here for a tax increase,” it’s unclear whether that would go over any better. It’s far from a major roadblock — the Panthers could always, for example, scale back their plans for the scoreboard to replace the one they haven’t built yet — but as the first sign of any serious pushback that the team has received to its plans so far, it’s well worth watching.

One comment on “NC house bill would leave Panthers stadium plans $34m short

  1. (Mr. de Mause can contact me through E-mail about this more if he likes.)

    Meanwhile, I had a meeting today about my proposed WNC Dome at the WNC Ag. Center in Asheville. It was with the Dept. of Agriculture’s top guy in our region. He basically said his boss wasn’t interested because of reasons I believe are just excuses. Every one of them could have been dealt with including parking. I believe they need a new parking garage due to the WNC State Fair anyway since they have to rent land near the fairgrounds due to overcrowding. The parking garage would cost more than the dome would (up to $25 million). The only time the dome creates a parking issue is during the WNC State Fair. It could have been dealt with. This facility would have helped four different departments at Western Carolina University.

    So I guess North Carolina’s government wants to free up money so a billionaire football owner can have his subsidy, but as usual western and eastern North Carolina gets the shaft. Asheville’s been waiting for seven years just for the right to raise local revenue for an arts center (the State will not allow them to do that), but Charlotte is pushing themselves to the head of the line.

    It’s much worse than that. The most important reason for the dome is it’s a regional disaster shelter, the technology is proven to withstand EF-5 tornadoes and major hurricanes. From here on out, every time someone in the Carolinas dies due to a hurricane I’m going to bring up the fact that our Governor subsidized a billionaire football owner rather than set up infrastructure in Asheville and Williamston that could have rescued evacuees from their most desperate hour. And I won’t be the only one.

    Pat McCrory should decide if he’s the Governor of Charlotte, or the Governor of North Carolina.