Raise the roof? Panthers' owner hints at stadium upgrades, future plans

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Panthers owner David Tepper wants to draw major events to Bank of America Stadium in uptown Charlotte.

For more than a year, Channel 9 has pressed for answers about the future of the stadium.

Tepper dropped another hint Tuesday night about what he may be thinking -- leaning toward stadium renovations rather than building a new one.

Bank of America Stadium will turn 23 years old around the time the Panthers kick off its 2019 season.

Its last renovation was about five years ago and cost $75 million, and the city has promised another round of renovations.

Last week, Gov. Roy Cooper said he met with Tepper and talked about potentially hosting college basketball's Final Four in Charlotte.

Cooper offered his support but Tepper said hosting that big of an event would take more support and a roof over the stadium.

"I’ve said it before -- but I would love if we could ever do it to get people to support it -- to put some sort of roof in here and have a Final Four in North Carolina,” Tepper said.

Will Webb, the executive director for the Charlotte Sports Foundation, said leaders have been called in to help to bid for or manage some of the city’s biggest sporting events.

“Whether it’s this stadium or another one, a dome stadium would open the door for so many events in Charlotte,” Webb said. “You know, you’ve got big-time soccer, you’ve got concerts, you’ve got national championship football game in play, you’ve got Final Four. You’re unlimited in what you can go after.”

In 2015, Charlotte leaders tried to go after the college football championship and didn’t get it.

Another issue could be, who is going to pay for it?

In an email with City Council member Tariq Bokhari, he said he'd want to know more, but it depends on the return of investment for the taxpayer.

Then, over the phone, a county commissioner and chairman said, “As a PSL owner myself, I would be more than happy to do my part, but I don’t necessarily think that's a role of the county commission.”

It appears the Panthers are already trying to drum up that support.

The team is hosting two focus group sessions Wednesday and one of the topics is what new seating options could look like after a Bank of America Stadium renovation.

It would be a huge expense with taxpayers likely paying for some or all of it.

Last week, we asked Charlotte City Councilman James Mitchell if leaders would be willing to pay for renovations.

He said he supports the effort but didn’t think major construction adjustments are necessary.

Plans to bring Major League Soccer to Charlotte?

Transforming Bank of America Stadium into a soccer field with hopes of landing a Major League Soccer team is an idea has garnered a lot of support, and now the Panthers want input from the public.

Advocates say there's no doubt that bringing an MLS team to Charlotte would get the Queen City noticed by a new global crowd. The big question though is what changes would be required at the stadium and who would pay for them?

[READ MORE: Advocates push for professional soccer team in Queen City]

The Panthers will host a focus group on Wednesday night to discuss bringing MLS to Bank of America Stadium. Fans will be able to give their thoughts on potential new stadium seating options that could be created through renovations.

[Councilman: Support from new Panthers owner could reignite push for pro soccer]

The commissioner of MLS identified Charlotte as a possible site for an expansion team last summer, saying he was intrigued by all the interest he was getting from Tepper.

If MLS requires a new or renovated stadium, Mitchell said Charlotte should help. He questioned whether it'd be possible to carve out money for renovations from the city's tourism fund.

Tepper, charities donate supplies for hundreds of CMS classrooms

Tepper and several community partners are providing funding for school supplies for hundreds of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools classrooms.

The David A. Tepper Charitable Foundation, John M. Belk Endowment and Carolina Panthers Charities plan to donate $120,000 to Classroom Central.

Officials said the funding gift will provide new school supplies to 800 elementary classrooms in 19 Title I schools.

[RELATED: Panthers new owner helps launch school supply distribution for 12,000 students]

The announcement was made on Tuesday during a surprise event for CMS teachers at Bank of America Stadium.

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen gave a pep talk in the team’s locker room, and Tepper made the official announcement of the donation on the field.

“Ensuring students have the basic resources they need for the classroom is critical for their confidence, development and success,” said Tepper. “I am proud to team up with our community partners for this important effort that will help students succeed in the second half of the school year.”