David Tepper’s company says it sent notice to terminate Panthers project in Rock Hill

ROCK HILL, S.C. — David Tepper’s LLC has released a statement after pausing construction on the team’s practice facility in Rock Hill, saying it has sent notices to the city of Rock Hill to formally terminate its previous agreements.

Channel 9 has previously reported the Carolina Panthers owner’s LLC, GT Real Estate Holdings, has invested more than $170 million into the development. The contract for the project was between the city of Rock Hill and GT Real Estate Holdings.

Tepper Sports and Entertainment paused construction in early March, saying the city of Rock Hill failed to get the finances to pay for public infrastructure.

On April 1, the city of Rock Hill and York County Council said they supported starting construction again on the $225 million development, according to a new resolution.

“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.

A GTRE spokesperson shared the following statement with Channel 9 on Tuesday:

“On February 26, 2021, the City of Rock Hill became delinquent on their obligation to fund the public infrastructure. Despite our persistent efforts throughout 2021, the City of Rock Hill failed to issue the bonds or provide the funding for the public infrastructure for the project.

“On March 18, 2022, GTRE issued a default notice and the City did not cure its default within the prescribed 30-day cure period. It is unfortunate that some recently decided to conduct a misguided, destructive public relations campaign to obscure their failures.

“We have sent notices to the City to formally terminate the previous agreements. Accordingly, we are prepared to sit down with the City and other interested parties to discuss the significant challenges ahead.”

Channel first heard from Tepper Sports & Entertainment on March 7, when it first confirmed it had paused construction on the project because the city of Rock Hill failed to provide the money. However, Rock Hill leaders said they were prepared to issue bonds, but that the Panthers told them not to.

South Governor Henry McMaster said he was disappointed to hear the news and he released the following statement to Channel 9:

“Today’s announcement by the Panthers is a disappointment, as we had hoped they would be a part of South Carolina’s record breaking, booming economy.

“In 2021, we broke a decade’s worth of records for job recruitment, investment, and expansion, announcing 18,000 new jobs and $5.6 billion in capital investment. And our state government’s finances are in the strongest condition ever, with the largest budget surpluses, the largest rainy-day reserves, and the lowest debt in our history.

“South Carolina is winning, and we intend to keep winning. The best is yet to come!”

Statement from Rock Hill:

“The City of Rock Hill joined state and county leaders and the greater community in welcoming the Panthers to Rock Hill and shared in the excitement over Mr. Tepper’s idea of “two states, one team.” Over the past three years, City staff and local elected officials have invested countless hours negotiating agreements and working to perform the City’s part of the agreements to make this a successful development for both the Panthers and the Rock Hill community.

We are disappointed with the current dispute and with the decision of the Panthers to halt the Rock Hill development, thus undermining the exhaustive efforts of the City of Rock Hill, State of South Carolina, York County, Rock Hill Schools, key landowners, and the entire region. It was and remains our intention to continue negotiating in good faith while protecting the interests of our taxpayers. In fact, in the past few weeks we have attempted to meet with the Panthers on numerous occasions to no avail.

The City met all obligations required under the agreements. The City did not commit to provide unlimited City backstop, but instead agreed to use its best reasonable efforts to issue bonds to be repaid by the increase in the tax revenues generated from development of the site which protects the City’s taxpayers and the City’s favorable financial position. As set forth in the parties’ finance agreement, the City was not required –

to pledge, use or contribute any City funds, revenues or assets to the repayment of the Bonds beyond the Panthers Fund Proceeds, Reserve Funds derived from proceeds of the Bonds, together with capitalized interest, if any, or [municipal improvement district (MID)] assessments imposed in accordance with the MID Governing Documents; and … the City’s reasonable best efforts to issue Bonds shall not be construed as an assurance or guarantee by the City that there will be a buyer for any of the Bonds.

As Mayor John Gettys has said,

Our community embraced the Panthers and welcomed them to South Carolina. Be assured the City of Rock Hill did everything to make this project a success and has not defaulted on any of our obligations…that is not how we do business.

The City does not believe in addressing, through a public back-and-forth, its differences with another party. We are encouraged the Panthers may now be willing to meet and look forward to resolving any and all outstanding issues so that we can together fulfill the promises implicit in the “two states, one team” ethos. From our standpoint, we are prepared to meet as early as today. Accordingly, this will be the last public statement from the City regarding the most recent misleading and erroneous statements from the Panthers.”

Statement from York County:

“It is disheartening to learn today that the Carolina Panthers have terminated their original agreements with the City of Rock Hill. However, York County remains optimistic that this project can still move forward. The Panthers have expressed a willingness to continue discussions with all parties involved and face the challenges ahead. York County expresses that same willingness.”

“Rock Hill obviously wasn’t able to fulfill its obligations,” York County Councilman William Bump Roddey said.

Roddey told Channel 9 that he hopes York County can come to an agreement with the Panthers.

“This does open the door for York County to sit back down at the table and take total control of the deal. Total control of the financing options,” Roddey said.

However, York County Councilman Brandon Guffey said he isn’t so sure about that idea.

“At this point no absolutely not. But I need to calm down and count to 10,” Guffey said.

(WATCH BELOW: Congressman Ralph Norman on stalled Panthers facility: ‘Taxpayers deserve better’)