Oh, okay, fine, here’s some real news:
Charlotte’s city council voted unanimously Monday night to approve an agreement to provide $87.5 million for upgrades to the Carolina Panthers‘ 17-year-old stadium in exchange for a commitment to stay in North Carolina’s largest city for at least another six years.
This has been a foregone conclusion for a while now, but still, it’s worth noting that this is one of the weakest returns any city has gotten on a stadium subsidy, ever. Typical stadium deals involve a lot more public money, obviously, but they at least usually include, say, a 30-year lease. (Albeit sometimes a 30-year lease with a ridonkulous out clause.) Here, Charlotte has given Panthers owner Jerry Richardson $87.5 million in exchange for agreeing to stay put through 2019 — in a stadium he himself owns, meaning that to leave before 2019 the Panthers would need to find a city willing to build them a stadium, wait for it to be completed, and also figure out what to do with their current stadium once they’d abandoned it. But now Charlotte citizens can rest assured that that won’t happen, at least not for another six years.
Richardson also has promised he’d never move the team himself, which has led to one of the strangest developments in the history of stadium shakedowns: an NFL owner threatening that if he doesn’t get renovation subsidies, he will literally die.
The 76-year-old Richardson, who had a heart transplant a few years ago, said the deal was important to assuring the Panthers would stay in Charlotte upon his death.
During a presentation highlighting the deal, city officials said the Panthers would be sold no later than two years after Richardson’s death.
So let’s see, a six-year extension, and it would take two years to sell the team — Richardson is clearly planning to kick the bucket no later than 2017. Maybe he knows something we don’t know.