Council members push for public hearing on stadium upgrades

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte council members debated “the largest project in city history” Monday night, a $650 million proposal to upgrade Bank of America Stadium.

Plans call for a new park-like atmosphere outside the stadium, new concourses, concessions, seats, and a standing-room-only section.

The money would come from the Convention Center Fund. That’s a bucket of money that can only be used for Convention Center upgrades, amateur sports, or Bank of America Stadium improvements.

Tepper Sports & Entertainment is contributing $150 million to the project and covering cost overruns.

The business community has thrown their support behind the deal.


At Monday night’s meeting, Councilmember Dimple Ajmera pushed for a public hearing on the project. The city is currently collecting public feedback online. The only opportunity the public has to speak on the project is on June 24, when Charlotte City Council is scheduled to vote.

“I personally feel we need to have a public hearing,” Ajmera said.

Councilmembers Tiawana Brown, Renee Johnson, and LaWana Slack-Mayfield joined Ajmera in calling for a public hearing.

“This is a major financial commitment,” Slack-Mayfield said.

It’s unclear if the city will hold a public hearing prior to June 24. If one happens, it may be on June 17, when the council is scheduled to vote on rezoning petitions. Charlotte City Council will have a special economic development committee meeting on Wednesday at 3 to further discuss the project.

Ajmera also brought up what she called “the elephant in the room.” She alluded to Tepper Sports & Entertainment backing out of the Rock Hill practice facility and MLS youth academy headquarters at Charlotte’s Eastland Yards.

“Because of the history of not following through on other deals in the past,” Ajmera said.

Sports economist David Abrams, the consultant for the city on the project, says the agreement will be written to protect Charlotte taxpayers.

“We make sure the counter-party agreements protect both sides,” he said. “Forget about the history of what happened elsewhere.”

Economic Development Committee Chair Malcolm Graham says he’s taking a ‘trust but verify’ approach. He says he’s had great talks with TSE and points out that there is a different team in place.

“While the ownership remains the same, there is a new leadership team that has not been there through some of the past episodes,” Graham said.

Republican Councilman Ed Driggs says he wants to know what’s in place to keep the project on track, but he sees value in the deal.

“The investment Tepper has made is beneficial to us,” Driggs said.

Driggs also said he wants to know more about the Panther’s planned $421 million in investments in the stadium after it’s renovated. He said he is generally in support of the deal but would have liked to have heard directly today from David Tepper, who owns both teams.

“Mr. Tepper is a towering figure; he is larger than life. I think there is a general understanding that he is the guy who decides; frankly, I think it would have been good if he came to talk to us, and at the end of the day, our alliance is with him,” Driggs elaborated.

Overall, council members seem to feel largely the same way as Driggs. But like some fans, Ajmera wondered why a roof wasn’t part of the renovations.

Assistant City Manager Tracy Dodson’s answer: money.

“It is an incredibly costly venture to put a roof on a facility such as this,” Dodson said.

VIDEO: Charlotte business community shows support for BofA Stadium renovation project

Comments on this article