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Posted: 11:57 a.m. Thursday, April 11, 2013
Yes. 5 votes
No. 14 votes
19 total votes
By Linzi Sheldon
RALEIGH, N.C. —
The N.C. Senate approved a bill allowing Charlotte city leaders to use tax money for Bank of America stadium renovations, a move council member James Mitchell called "huge." The bill, which was passed by the House last month, will now be ratified and become law next week. Republicans and Democrats from Mecklenburg County said finding the funding just made sense. "We were trying to do what we could to keep what I consider a good economic driver for our state in place," Sen. Bob Rucho said. "What was at stake was whether or not the Carolina Panthers stay in the state of North Carolina," Senator Malcolm Graham said. The city originally pledged $144 million with the agreement that the Panthers would stay in Charlotte another 15 years. State lawmakers said no to the tax increase that would be required. This bill, which received unanimous approval in the Senate, allows the city to use existing tax money in its convention center fund to borrow $110 million. Less money, Mitchell said, means less time, but he said exactly how much less is what the city will start hammering out with the team in open negotiations he expects to begin next week. "We're going to make sure this process is very transparent," he said. The Panthers would likely receive about 80 percent of that $110 million, he said, since the convention center also needs upgrades. The head of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Tom Murray, is putting together a master plan prioritizing the needs at the convention center, which the CRVA runs. Once concern is whether the Panthers' stay will be shorter than the length of the loan. It would mean the city could be paying for renovations after the team has moved elsewhere. "That is a concern. That will be part of the negotiations," Mitchell said. "The goal would be having them stay the whole time that we're paying, that's the goal."
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