Owner of Carolina Panthers, Charlotte FC moves to cut, furlough some staff

Owner of Carolina Panthers, Charlotte FC moves to cut, furlough some staff
FILE PHOTO: Panthers owner David Tepper is pushing fellow billionaires to do more in the fight against the coronavirus. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE — Tepper Sports & Entertainment has furloughed or cut 23 jobs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding to a flood of pay and job reductions across the sports industry.

With teams and leagues playing in empty or reduced-capacity stadiums and arenas, sports and entertainment companies have been hit hard over the past six months.

Tepper Sports owns the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and the Major League Soccer expansion club Charlotte FC.

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David Tepper paid record prices for both teams: $2.275 billion for the Panthers in 2018 and $325 million in December for the soccer team.

The employees affected by the move work for the Panthers or the MLS team. Tepper Sports declined to disclose specific figures.

A source close to the organization said four jobs were cut permanently while another 19 people have been furloughed until at least January.

“The pandemic has caused significant disruption to our events calendar across Tepper Sports & Entertainment,” Steven Drummond, the company’s chief communications officer, said on Tuesday. “As has been the case with a number of organizations, these circumstances have led us to implement various actions, including a reduction in staff size. We are hopeful these measures are temporary, and that health and economic conditions improve in the near future.”

North Carolina currently has restrictions in place limiting outdoor crowds to 25 people. Even if Gov. Roy Cooper loosens those pandemic-based limits, it is unlikely the Panthers will be able to have anywhere near capacity crowds at the 75,000-seat Bank of America Stadium. The team has already acknowledged that fact by allowing season ticket holders to opt out for 2020 and notifying fans that any capacity for home games will be much smaller.

Charlotte FC, in conjunction with the MLS, recently delayed its inaugural season to 2022 from 2021, citing business challenges caused by COVID-19. BofA Stadium was scheduled to host four major concerts this spring and summer, including the Rolling Stones and Garth Brooks, but all of the shows have been postponed.

Tepper Sports and the Panthers let go of 15 business-side employees earlier this year, but those changes were not attributed to the pandemic. Some of those vacancies have been filled and others won’t be.

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