Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson got an $88 million gift from Charlotte city taxpayers in 2013 — after being invited to sit in on closed-door council meetings on the subsidy — to perform upgrades to the stadium that he himself owns. The Panthers just revealed the latest batch of goodies they’re building with the money, and they include:
- “Four new security posts around the stadium to account for people coming onto the property and to account for people once they are inside the property,” according to Panthers exec Lance Emory.
- Ninety-five new walkthrough metal detectors.
- More WiFi access points.
- Improvements to the top 500 level deck, including digital menu boards and all-you-can-drink Pepsi stations.
None of that is terrible stuff to add, though why it’s the responsibility of the city of Charlotte to add it remains baffling. (In return for the money, Richardson only promised to keep the team in town until 2019, which by one accounting is the third-richest per-year subsidy in NFL history.) If you want terrible stuff to add, you have to turn to this:
Jerry Richardson, Father of Panthers. pic.twitter.com/1jmTmH4SlF
— Billy Steele (@wmsteele) July 18, 2016
According to the Charlotte Observer, the two panthers “represent both offense and defense and North Carolina and South Carolina.” But you’d surely figured that out already.
I can’t find any reporting on how much the statue cost, let alone what money was used to pay for it, but given that it’s described as a birthday present from Richardson’s corporate partners, at best it’s something that they could afford to give him because of the $88 million in city cash that he brought in by hanging out with the city council back in 2013. Maybe those two cats in the statue represent something else as well, which suggests an even better nickname for the thing.