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Resolution by York County leaders supports Panthers project, but does it benefit taxpayers?

ROCK HILL, S.C. — For more than two weeks, the construction site for a multi-million dollar Carolina Panthers project has sat in silence.

Work surrounding the new Panthers practice facility in Rock Hill was paused after Tepper Sports and Entertainment said the city hadn’t paid its share of the investment to finance construction.

[PAST COVERAGE: As Panthers’ new HQ remains on hold, Rock Hill leaders say they’ve done their best]

Now, there’s a possible deal in sight to get the project back on track.

York County leaders passed a resolution, 4-3, Monday night that they said could save the stalled project.

It’s a Hail Mary attempt by the county to save the Panthers deal, Councilman Bump Roddey told Channel 9′s Joe Bruno he hopes a good receiver will pull it down in the end zone.

“It’s an elite class to be even associated with the Carolina Panthers,” Roddey said.

Roddey said he has been sounding the alarm about Rock Hill’s finances and the inability to live up to the Panthers deal for almost a year.

He’s happy with the new agreement passed by the county and hopes the Panthers and the city will sign back on.

The old deal required Rock Hill to borrow $225 million, Roddey said. Under the new terms, Tepper would pay for the cost of the infrastructure upfront and be reimbursed by York County through property taxes over the next 30 years.

The property tax reimbursements are only tied to the practice facility and headquarters, but future development at the site, such as restaurants or a hotel, would have a reduced tax rate.

There would also be an extended timeline of two years to get the project done.

“We want them to be successful,” Roddy said. ”We don’t want to put them on any time constraints or restrictions that make it difficult for them to be successful.”

The deal received approval from Roddy and other county leadership, but it will remain to be seen if it’s a good deal for taxpayers.

JC Bradbury, a Charlotte native and Kennesaw State economics professor, said there is a belief that building a new stadium will generate an economic boom, but that’s not always the case.

“What economists find when they study stadiums is that they don’t see that economic boost, because largely just people who live in the area are just reallocating their spending to some other business,” Bradbury said. “In fact, it’s taking away spending from other local businesses.”

He said if taxpayers are expecting an economic boom, they may be disappointed.

“If you feel that it makes your county a better place to live, you should feel fine with it,” Bradbury said. “But if you think it’s going to make you rich, that’s absolutely incorrect.”

The Panthers and the city of Rock Hill must agree to the terms for the project to move forward.

Tepper Sports and Entertainment and Rock Hill leaders have not commented on the vote by York County.

Return to this story for updates.

(Watch the video below: Future of Panthers HQ in Rock Hill in limbo)

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