City discussed $1.2 billion framework for Panthers stadium renovations

The Charlotte City Council discussed the future of Bank of America Stadium in a closed session on January 31.

In that meeting, city leaders discussed a potential framework of a $1.2 billion project with $600 million in public funds. The discussion was meant to brief Charlotte City Council on what a potential deal could look like.

While the city of Charlotte is part of ongoing conversations with Tepper Sports and Entertainment, multiple sources say there has been no official ask yet from the Carolina Panthers and negotiations have not started.

Sources say the city is exploring a stadium renovation project with a new practice facility at the location of the current practice bubble. A dome is not part of the renovation package at this time.

In a Feb. 27 closed session, sources say city staffers gauged the temperature of the Charlotte City Council on the hospitality industry pursuing an extension of the city’s tourism taxes. An extension of the taxes is critical for the city to be able to borrow money against future revenue. In addition to the future of Bank of America Stadium, city leaders are expected in the future to discuss other major tourism projects, including Discovery Place renovations.

Currently, the 1% prepared food and beverage tax and 2% hotel/motel tax for the NASCAR Hall of Fame are set to expire in the 2030s. A bill filed by Rep. John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg, in the North Carolina House of Representatives for a specialty Charlotte FC license plate was amended to extend the taxes to 2060.

Among other things, the 1% prepared food and beverage tax can be used for the future Bank of America Stadium project. The 2% hotel/motel tax can be used for maintenance, renovation, and refinancing of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum.

There are three revenue sources for tourism. The Convention Center Fund, the Tourism Fund, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame Fund. The Convention Center Fund can go toward Bank of America Stadium improvements, amateur sports, and the Convention Center. The prepared 1% food and beverage tax and the 3% hotel/motel tax feed into the Convention Center Fund.

The Tourism fund is for Spectrum Center, Bojangles Coliseum, art facilities, and special events. It is composed of a 3% hotel/motel tax, a rental car tax, and a passenger vehicle tax.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame Fund is funded by a 2% hotel/motel tax. The only hotel/motel tax set to sunset is the 2% tax that feeds into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Fund.

Last month, Nashville Metro Council approved a $2.1 billion agreement to build a new domed stadium for the Tennessee Titans. The deal includes $1.26 billion in public funding, according to the Tennessean.

In March, the Buffalo Bills, Erie County, and New York State announced a $1.4 billion public-private partnership to build a new stadium. According to WKBW, the public-private partnership calls for a $600 million contribution from the state, $250 million from Erie County, and $550 million from the Buffalo Bills.

The Cleveland Browns are also exploring a stadium renovation project.

The Panthers declined to comment.

The city of Charlotte didn’t spend any money on the soccer renovations for Bank of America Stadium or to land Charlotte FC. In 2013, Charlotte City Council agreed to an $87 million renovation project for Bank of America Stadium. Last year, Charlotte City Council agreed to a $275 million Spectrum Center renovation and practice facility project.

Statement from Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles:

“Without confirming any of the information, I will say that it is unfortunate that discussions that happen in closed session are shared publicly because it undermines our ability to deliver the best deal for our community. It is important that we retain any business in our city. One out of every nine people in our community work in the hospitality and tourism industry and the Panthers and Charlotte FC are an important part of that industry. It is also important we have venues for the games, concerts and other events that create a vibrant city that is growing and delivers services to our residents.”

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