York County councilman ‘not optimistic’ on plan for Panthers practice facility

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — The city of Rock Hill and York County Council said on April 1 it supports starting construction again on the $225 million Panthers practice facility in York County, according to a new resolution.

City council members approved the resolution but a week later, there has not been any word from Tepper Sports and Entertainment on the new plan.

>> Read the city’s entire resolution here.

“The city remains supportive of the project and especially recognizes that restarting construction and development of the project will benefit residents of the city, county and the entire state of South Carolina,” the resolution reads.

Rock Hill also said it supports York County’s March 21 resolution, which was a new financing plan to, among other things, “enable funding for the infrastructure” of the facility.

However, York County Councilman Bump Roddey said Monday night he had doubts about the project’s future after not hearing anything from the Panthers in a week.

“I’m not optimistic at this point at all,” Roddey said. “Originally, when we put this plan in place, I was very optimistic. Now that a week has gone by, those optimistic vibes about this project are completely gone.”

The old deal required Rock Hill to borrow $225 million, Roddey said. Under the new terms, Tepper Sports and Entertainment would pay for the cost of the infrastructure upfront and be reimbursed by York County through property taxes over the next 30 years.

York County leaders passed the resolution 4 to 3.

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Tepper Sports and Entertainment paused construction more than three weeks ago, saying the city of Rock Hill failed to get the finances to pay for public infrastructure.

Last week, the York County Council came up with a new revenue plan to save the project, which would require the Panthers’ organization to pay for public infrastructure.

Dozens of residents signed a petition asking the city and county to work together to get the project going again.

The man who started the petition said he also wants leaders to be more transparent about the process.

“We’re feeling left out and as the citizens, we are the last people who should be left out,” said Ryan Sanderson, owner of the Knowledge Perk coffee shop.

The Panthers project would help small businesses in the area, he said.

“This is a huge deal for the entire county,” Sanderson said. “And as a small business owner, these are people who are going to buy a cup of coffee from me. The Carolina Panthers, (Charlotte FC), those are potential wholesale buyers from me.”

Sanderson sent a letter with more than 50 signatures to city and county leaders asking them to work together to get the project going again.

He believes citizens were left in the dark about the latest updates on the project.

“I can’t tell you the number of texts and phone calls,” Sanderson said. “I got (some) saying, ‘Hey, I don’t see Carolina Panthers on the agenda. What’s going on? What are we doing?’ And then cameras (in the meetings) go out. They go into executive session and then this morning, a letter goes out saying they are willing to start negotiating with the county.”

The city of Rock Hill wouldn’t give any interviews Tuesday.

Channel 9 reached out to Tepper Sports and Entertainment for a comment but have not heard back at this point.

York County leaders said Friday that they are still waiting on a response from GT Real Estate and Tepper Sports and Entertainment on the new plan.

In a statement Tuesday, York County leaders thanked Rock Hill for its support.

One week ago York County Council passed a resolution aimed at restarting construction on the Carolina Panthers project in Rock Hill. That resolution offered to restructure the piece of the deal involving infrastructure for the team headquarters and practice facility.

“York County Government would like to express its appreciation to the Rock Hill City Council for its unanimous support of the resolution at its meeting last night. York County is eager to see this landmark project move forward, and construction to begin again at the site.

“We will continue to work diligently with our partners in the City and the Carolina Panthers to make this development a success.”

(WATCH BELOW: Resolution by York County leaders supports Panthers project, but does it benefit taxpayers?)