Push is on to secure public funding for Panthers stadium plans

CHARLOTTE — A new stadium for the NFL Carolina Panthers or a major renovation of the existing Bank of America Stadium could hinge on a bill in the state legislature to extend existing hospitality taxes until 2060 to provide taxpayer financing.

A long-term home for the Panthers, as well as additional enhancements and updates to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the convention center, are all on the local hospitality sector’s wish list — and all are likely to rely heavily on public money generated by taxes on restaurant meals, bar drinks, and hotel rooms.

This explains why executives in Charlotte’s hospitality industry have lobbied for an extension of those taxes, a campaign that began in earnest — publicly, at least — when a bill sponsored by Mecklenburg Republican House member John Ray Bradford passed the House finance committee this week.

It has bipartisan local support; co-sponsors include Mecklenburg Democrats Mary Belk, Terry Brown Jr., Becky Carney and Carolyn Logan. Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), senior chairman of the House appropriations committee, is also a co-sponsor.

If the measure gains approval in the full House, it will face what is expected to be a much more difficult path in the state Senate, which tends to look at tax extensions and increases with a warier eye.

Supporters of the legislation, including Bradford, emphasized in interviews with CBJ that the bill would keep existing taxes in place through 2060 but not increase any taxes.

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