It’s now been four days since the Carolina Panthers announced that owner Jerry Richardson was under investigation for workplace misconduct, and two days since Sports Illustrated revealed that the misconduct included routinely asking female employees to turn around so he could ogle their butts and then it was announced that Richardson would sell the team, and one day since Richardson stepped aside from running the team. So, of course, it’s time for the Charlotte Observer to ask if whoever ends up buying the Panthers will demand a new stadium:
Bank of America is now one of the oldest stadiums in the NFL. A new ownership group might want a more lavish stadium with a retractable roof, that would allow the city to host the NCAA Final Four and the Super Bowl.
“Bank of America Stadium, for the fall, is a fabulous facility for football,” said Marc Ganis, a sports consultant who advises NFL owners on stadium deals. “The concept that Jerry (Richardson) has of a ‘Stadium in a Park,’ has worked very well there.”
But wait, you, the devoted FoS reader, ask, didn’t the Panthers just get a whole bunch of money from Charlotte so he could build a giant statue of himself among other things, in exchange for a lease extension? Yes, but that extension was only for six years, and runs out in 2019, meaning the Panthers’ owner could move elsewhere as soon as the completion of next season and only pay a small financial penalty. Or, more to the point, can threaten to move at the completion of next season, in hopes of landing a huge financial windfall, whether for an entirely new stadium or for major renovations to their current one, which is an ancient 21 years old.
In fact, Richardson could be selling at just the right time: Whoever buys the Panthers will end up with not only a seat in one of America’s most exclusive clubs, but the ability to shake down either Charlotte or some other city or both for the biggest stadium subsidies they can get, without the baggage of being a hometown hero with a giant statue of themselves outside their home stadium. That should be good enough to create a nice premium on whatever price Richardson is looking to get for the team, which should help pay for settlements in all the new harassment lawsuits he’s no doubt going to be facing — and if you’re now thinking, “Does this mean that taxpayers somewhere are going to end up indirectly helping to pay the cost of Jerry Richardson’s crimes?”, maybe you don’t want to think about that too hard if you’re going to get through the day.