Sports

Another Carolina Panthers’ Boondoggle?

Stadium subsidies would cost Charlotte dearly …

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Over the last few years, our media outlet has extensively and meticulously chronicled how the NFL’s Carolina Panthers have screwed over the people of South Carolina under owner David Tepper – a liberal, billionaire hedge fund manager who has spent the past six years destroying this franchise.

Tepper, readers will recall, agreed to move the team’s corporate headquarters (and practice facility) to Rock Hill, S.C. in 2019, a deal hailed as the signature economic development achievement of S.C. governor Henry McMaster. The agreement – which cost Palmetto State taxpayers tens of millions of dollars – ultimately collapsed, and in 2022 Tepper’s holding company filed for bankruptcy in Delaware.

My media outlet opposed that deal from the very beginning.

“This is a bad deal. Period,” I wrote in March of 2019. “South Carolina should pass on the Panthers … and tell Tepper that while he is welcome to locate in the Palmetto State, he is not going to get paid to bring (his team) here.”

If only McMaster and other camera-mugging Palmetto politicians had listened …

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In addition to the millions lost, there is an ongoing criminal investigation into this botched “economic development” debacle. As for the complex itself, it was demolished last year – leaving a vacant 245-acre lot and a bunch of angry local politicians and developers. Meanwhile, the Panthers also pulled the plug on holding preseason practices in Spartanburg, S.C. – moving them to Charlotte, N.C. after twenty-eight years in the Palmetto State.

“Two states, one team?”

Yeah right …

Now, Tepper is trying to get $650 million out of Charlotte, N.C. taxpayers to pay for part of a massive overhaul of Bank of America stadium, where the Panthers have played their home games since 1996. Bank of America stadium is the eighth-oldest facility in the NFL and Tepper wants to spend a total of $1.34 billion giving it a major facelift.

Assuming the city agrees, the deal would keep the Panthers – and the Charlotte FC soccer team – in Charlotte through 2046.

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My media outlet has argued for years that the “benefits” of stadium subsidies accrue almost exclusively to the owners of the franchises which receive these tax breaks. A 2015 report from the Mercatus Center at George Washington University confirmed extensive previous research on this subject, concluding that “despite the many millions of dollars spent on professional sports, little or none of that money makes its way back to the taxpayers.”

In fact, the research actually uncovered “harmful effects of sports on per capita income, wage and salary disbursements, and wages per job.”

In other words, these bets are losers for taxpayers …

Last month, The Atlantic – a left-leaning media outlet – published a piece from author Dan Moore detailing just how poor an investment these stadium deals are for the cities which get suckered into supporting them.

“These subsidies are a boondoggle for taxpayers, who have spent nearly $30 billion on stadiums over the past 34 years, not counting property-tax exemptions or federal revenues lost to tax-exempt municipal bonds,” Moore wrote. “Stadiums do not come close to generating enough economic activity to pay back the public investment involved in building them—especially when they’re coupled with lease agreements that funnel revenue back to owners or allow teams to play in the stadiums rent-free.”

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“You would think that three decades’ worth of evidence would be enough to put an end to the practice of subsidizing sports stadiums,” Moore added. “Unfortunately, you would be wrong. America finds itself on the brink of the biggest, most expensive publicly-funded-stadium boom ever, and the results will not be any better this time around.”

Not surprisingly, none of this information was contained in reports from mainstream media outlets regarding the Bank of America proposal. Instead, those reports quoted city officials as enthusiastically supporting the plan – arguing Charlotte should “act fast” in order to “lock down” the agreement.

Meanwhile, a local business alliance was quoted as praising Tepper for making a “critical investment in this community’s future.”

Since Tepper purchased the Panthers in 2018, the team has posted an absolutely abysmal 31-68 (.313) record – failing to reach the playoffs or secure a winning season. Conversely, in the five years prior to Tepper buying the team, the Panthers went  54-31-1 (.621) – reaching the playoffs four times and making it to Super Bowl 50. During his tenure, Tepper has fired three coaches, run off the best player in the league (Christian McCaffrey) and alienated half of his team’s fan base in the Carolinas. He’s also repeatedly shown his ass.

Charlotte fans are hoping the hiring of new offensive-minded Dave Canales – and the Panthers’ retooled roster – can turn things around in 2024 and get the team back to the playoffs.

Either way, though, Charlotte taxpayers are going to wind up on the losing end of the deal …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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2 comments

Carla Top fan June 6, 2024 at 7:39 am

.

Reply
Sheriff Buford T. Justice Top fan June 6, 2024 at 10:55 am

Just my 2 cents worth: If that Liberal Tepper wants to overhaul Bank of America stadium his sorry ass can pay for it with his check and not the tax payers.

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