CHARLOTTE, N.C. — From the beginning, owner Jerry Richardson's presence has towered over the Carolina Panthers.
Life after Richardson leaves some nervous.
Richardson’s son, Mark Richardson, a minority owner, was quoted recently as saying that there is a plan in place to sell the team after his father passes away.
Richardson signed an agreement with the city that will keep the team in Charlotte through the middle of 2019, and if a new owner wants to move the team before 2023, they would pay some penalties.
“Growing up, family members, even school trips, we'd make trips to Charlotte,” said Charlotte resident Kyle Hoppe, who grew up in Asheville. “That would definitely be a big loss to Charlotte. That's a big income every season.”
Several sources close to the Panthers and Richardson said they don't know of any plans to move the team, and can't see a new owner moving the team either.
The Panthers have sold out 140-straight home games and are far from the bottom in the league in value and revenues.
Last month, Forbes Magazine estimated the Panthers’ value at $2.3 billion, which ranks 21st in the National Football League, with revenue of $385 million, putting them 17th in the league.
Former assistant city manager Ron Kimble, who helped negotiate that deal with the Panthers four years ago, said he also can’t see a new owner moving the team.
“Jerry Richardson and the Panthers have been an excellent partner with the city of Charlotte,” Kimble said. “They are committed to this community and there is an agreement in place that guides their staying here.”
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