Could a New Owner Move the Panthers to Another City?
CHARLOTTE, NC – The Panthers are tethered to Charlotte through the end of the 2018 season.
Now, some worry a new owner could be lured to another city.
“I think we all want to say we were the City Council that kept the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte,” says City Council member James Mitchell.
“I think it’s all hands on deck,” he says.
Mitchell, who is chair of the Economic Development Committee, says while there’s hope for a local ownership group, state and local leaders need to be proactive to make sure there’s no chance the team leaves.
“I do think the clock will start ticking if the new ownership, we have not made that new ownership happy by 2019,” Mitchell says.
City Council reached a deal in 2013 to keep the team in Charlotte through the end of next season in exchange for helping fund stadium improvements.
Former Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes was part of those discussions.
He says a six year tether was the best the city could do at the time.
“The city, financially, because of the limitations on the hotel motel tax, we were not in any position to offer to build any stadium or anything like that,” Barnes says.
He says the concern now would be a new owner lured by a city willing to offer more than Charlotte could afford.
“If you have someone wanting to take the team to another city, who might offer, for example a free two billion dollar stadium, then I think there would be that competition,” Barnes says.
New district one rep Larken Egleston says he hopes recent improvements will be enough to keep the team here.
“I think it’s been money well spent, people have appreciated the changes and I think that it’s those improvements that will keep the team here, along with the deep seated fan support,” he says.
WCCB Charlotte tried to ask new Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles about council’s role in the ownership transition, but she would not talk to us Monday night.
She did release a statement late Sunday: