The North Carolina legislature may not be willing to give Charlotte a restaurant-tax hike to pay for Carolina Panthers stadium renovations, but they did vote yesterday to allow Charlotte to use its existing hotel-tax money on the Panthers. Unanimously, even.
The problem for Charlotte now is that the hotel taxes are already being used to pay off the Charlotte Convention Center, so it’s not as simple as just handing the money over to the Panthers. Charlotte councilmember James Mitchell estimates that the city could maybe afford to give the Panthers $88 million, which is a lot less than the $206 million they’d initially requested. Mitchell said that “it’s time for us to re-engage with the Panthers and talk about a lower-cost upgrade to the stadium.”
Unfortunately, Mitchell also said that with less money at stake, there’s no way the Panthers will agree to a promise to stay put in Charlotte for 15 years in exchange for the stadium cash. Which makes you wonder why Charlotte would give them any money at all — a promise to stay put for only a few years isn’t worth squat, especially since any other city wanting to lure the team would take years just to get a stadium built. But apparently to some Charlotte lawmakers, getting something worthless for less is better than getting something marginally more valuable for more. Too bad there’s nobody in the state who could explain to them why this makes no sense.