Controversial deal with Panthers to improve stadium, allow city use of facility

by: Allison Latos Updated:


Eyewitness News is getting more details on exactly how Charlotte will benefit from giving $87 million to Bank of America Stadium.

Major construction will start inside the stadium in January.

The city council just gave the Panthers $28 million in the first of a three-part deal. Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble said the money will build escalators inside.

But the upgrades bring controversy.

"I'm an engineer," said resident Keith Powley. "If you own the improvements, but you don't own the stadium, what good is it?"

Kimble said the city will watch every dollar. It’s also paying for video and sound systems and efforts to make the stadium energy-efficient.

"We will have a city representative sign off on every invoice that comes in to be sure that every dollar they're asking for is spent in the right way," he said.

With the deal, the Panthers are tied to Charlotte for 10 years and the city gets five rent-free days to use the stadium between Jan. 15 and June 30 every year.

"We are in conversations with international soccer teams throughout this country and throughout the world to bring international soccer on an annual basis to Bank of America Stadium," Kimble said.

"Charlotte is the new melting pot," said resident Darren Butler. "I'm from New York City and I see a lot of change going on here. That would be great, too."

Kimble said officials are also considering a massive religious event and, during the recent chamber of commerce trip to Texas, city leaders met with televangelist Joel Olsteen.

The city is also working to attract concerts, but the performer would have to fill more than 70,000 seats.

Kimble said the Panthers have to approve the events. The NFL team wants to make sure the field won't be damaged.

The city is open to suggestions from residents.