Carolina Panthers owner wants public to pay to replace his 23-year-old stadium so he can have one with a roof

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, who is already getting an astonishing $160 million or so from the state of South Carolina for a friggin’ practice facility, has previously hinted that he could threaten to move the entire team to South Carolina and suggested that his current stadium, built all the way back in 1996, maybe should have a roof added. But in the nearly 15 months he’s owned the team, Tepper hasn’t outright come out and said he wants to tear down a 23-year-old stadium that he’s being paid $14.6 million a year to play in and have somebody else build him a new one — until now:

Tepper told Ben Fischer of the Sports Business Journal he hoped to build a new retractable-dome stadium in Charlotte, as long as there was taxpayer help.

“At some point, I would make a big investment if I could get the state and others on board in a new stadium that would be great for soccer and great for football,” Tepper said, referring to his bid to bring MLS to Charlotte. “The economy’s big enough for a revenue tax, a hotel revenue increase that would go a long way to help pay for a new stadium.”

Well, sure! The economy is big enough for lots of things! Not everything at the same time, mind you, so any money spent on a new stadium wouldn’t be available for something else, but he’ll make an investment too, so it wouldn’t be all taxpayer money, okay?

No reply yet from Charlotte or North Carolina officials, and Tepper called this a “long-range plan,” so we’re likely going to be hearing about this for a long while, likely years. I can only hope that every article from here on out ends the way NBC Sports’ does:

Tepper is the richest single owner in the NFL, with an estimated net worth of over $11 billion.

In fact, let’s all make a vow right now to refer to Tepper that way on every reference. As with my so far unsuccessful campaign to require that former Reagan, Bush, and Trump official Elliott Abrams be identified by any news media he appears on as “convicted liar Elliott Abrams,” it’s only a matter of truth in advertising.


18 comments on “Carolina Panthers owner wants public to pay to replace his 23-year-old stadium so he can have one with a roof

  1. Depressing. You know in 20 years or so, domed stadiums will be back out of favor and Tepper is the richest single owner in the NFL, with an estimated net worth of over $11 billion will want a retro style stadium with no roof.

  2. How much sports debt does Glendale still owe? And was it worth it?

    https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2019/08/01/gila-river-arena-camelback-ranch-glendale-sports-and-entertainment-district/1868073001/

    • I particularly like how they note that peak annual debt payments haven’t even begun yet (the peak for practically all the facilities is in 2033), while also noting that all the facilities are aging and will require significant upgrades… only 16 years into an average of 35 year debt obligations.

      Disaster is not a strong enough word for this kind of financial quicksand… Catastrophe, maybe?

  3. Let’s see what the local paper is running today….

    https://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/tom-sorensen-blog/article233374487.html

    “Why punish the man for being a billionaire? Billionaires have feelings, too. He made his money by trusting his instincts. I trust him, too.”

    “His business comes with a price. South Carolina paid it to entice him to move his team’s headquarters from Charlotte to Rock Hill, and Tepper was a billionaire then, too. The investment was astute. The Panthers will be the catalyst for development that Rock Hill almost certainly would not otherwise attract.”

    “He doesn’t strike me as a guy with his hand out. He strikes me as a businessman.”

    NFL owners are just preposterous characters in a Cohen brothers film.

      • Sergio, a few years ago I was watching the news when they cut to an interview with the president of a yacht building company.

        He must have used the term “class warfare in America” at least a dozen times while referring to the ‘slow down’ in mega yacht commissions he had, tragically, experienced. The interviewer did not mention the hundreds or perhaps thousands of people in the south Florida community they were in who had recently lost their jobs and homes, naturally. Perhaps it would have detracted from the overall impact of this tremendous human interest story.

        Surely there can be no greater problem for humanity to solve than impediments to the ever increasing income of billionaires?

    • And now I’m arguing with Sorensen on twitter about this. I’ve been trying to cut back on internet arguments, but I slipped.

      • Finally read the Sorenson piece, and there’s an even more telling part to that “seems like a businessman” quote:

        “Tepper isn’t standing on a concrete island on South Boulevard asking for $1s and $10s. He doesn’t strike me as a guy with his hand out. He strikes me as a businessman.”

        If you want a definition of America in a nutshell, it’s that it’s a place where a poor person looking for a dollar to buy food is asking for a handout, while a rich person asking for $100 million to increase his profits is a businessman.

        • Yeah, that.

          I’d like to think future historians will look back on this period in human history the way we look at trepanning, for instance.

          But the way things are heading, I seriously doubt whether there will be any human future…

        • I think I am way to the center compared to you politically. But that quote is pretty galling.

        • Paraphrasing a quote from Kobe Bryant when people started complaining about his $25 million/year salary when the owner of the team himself said Kobe is worth at least $90 million/year in value to the team: “One of the biggest and successful con-jobs the American sports franchise owner has been able to pull on the public is to blame the labor for his pay.”

          You will have people complain about the labor (in this case, players) getting paid too much money yet the franchise owner makes more than the entire team combined. Where do people think the money would go if a percentage didn’t go to the players? The stadia con is particularly troubling because it directly affects people in the form of cuts in social services, increases in taxes, reduction in quality-of-life, etc. I’m just waiting for the property taxes in Clark County to increase since the hotel tax revenue is barely enough already to cover the bond payments on the 33-year/$750 million nut that the county took out to finance a stadium (this is only Year 2 btw). You have a cheerleader from the media frothing at the mouth for a multi-billionaire to receive 9 figures of public funds because he isn’t on the public street pan-handling.

  4. Ask the St. Louis Rams, 20 years and done. This is the new norm if you want to keep an NFL team. Its pathetic. By the way, isn’t the current Charlotte Stadium pretty nice?

  5. “the economy is big enough for a revenue tax…”, said the wealthiest single owner in the NFL.

    I find it odd that people like Tepper, Tom Dundon or Dan Gilbert or whomever think imposing taxes (or just excessive fees on crooked car or home loans) on other people’s business is not a drag on the economy generally, when we know that if the same tax was imposed on them as a surtax on incomes over $2m they would be deploying an armada of lobbyists to remind us how taxes kill economies.

    Why is it that in this country a 1% income tax to feed hungry schoolchildren or help the homeless or whatever is considered damaging to the economy, but the charlatans who run credit or debit card companies can charge north of 25% and no-one mentions any impact on the economy at all… except when they discuss how “tremendously successful” the company is as they deploy a special surtax to fund the new head office/call center they have just agreed to build for said bloodsuckers.

  6. So it’s better to have your house burglarized by a poor scmuck than a well off crook from the suburbs? When did this become a “bash the billionaires” site? I support this site because it exposes the fleecing of the many to benefit the few. I don’t care if it is a major league franchise raking in millions of dollars, a lower minor league hockey team barely breaking even, or even a city owned golf club. I’m opposed to forced taxes to pay for their private playgrounds. Billionaire owners, millionaire athletes, their better off patrons, and the local sports media all benefit from the palaces the taxpaying masses generously provide for them. Richer or poorer, let’s call out all the leaches.

    • I don’t know what blog you’ve been reading but we here on FOS air our grievances about billionaire/millionaire/broke owners, political figures, and the media alike. The media takes as much if not more of a beating on this site, and deservedly so. Not so much the athletes, though from your other post it would seem that your grievance with “millionaire athletes” may stem from an certain group that would make two right angles with their lower body during a certain expression of national identity.

  7. “convicted liar Elliott Abrams,”? Let’s stay on topic. We don’t this turned this into a partisan squabbling site and have that disbarred, convicted liar ex-president from Arkansas’s name dragged in, or the name of that late senator from Mass., convicted of leaving a woman to drown in his car, dredged up again.

    • Pretty sure “on topic” is whatever I say it is, since this is my site. But in any case, writing about someone who was convicted of lying to Congress about the misuse of federal funds is pretty on-topic regardless.

  8. It makes me laugh that people still quote that $11 billion figure.

    Tepper “left the hedge fund game to focus on personal projects” (meaning the Panthers) earlier this year, which is often carny for “his fund had been struggling for years, and he had to get out without embarrassing himself.”

    It looks to me like the guy simply does not have the dough to build his own stadium. it also looks like the whole gimmick of paying $2B for the Panthers was that he needs a Falcons-style stadium situation to achieve any kind of significant growth in that investment.

    I think there are a lot of public-private stadium deals that make a ton of sense for the public (Calgary being the latest one), but this one doesn’t pass muster to me. I still think he’s got a better than average chance of getting a stadium done, but the idea that he could afford to build his own stadium reeks of BS.