Panthers new owner on workplace culture: "This is going to be an open place"

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The new owner of the Carolina Panthers addressed the media on Tuesday, just a day after the team's sale became final.

The Panthers announced Monday that the sale of the team to David Tepper, the founder and president of global hedge fund Appaloosa Management, L.P., has closed.

[RELATED: 'Down-to-earth' billionaire will be next owner of Carolina Panthers]

At Tuesday's news conference, Tepper mentioned the need to build a relationship with the community by giving people access to events at Bank of America Stadium.

"Everything goes hand in hand in this community," Tepper said. "It's also things like high school football games, and I kind of think high school championships should be played in that stadium."

Tepper most likely won't shake up the football side of the organization anytime soon.

The team has made the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.

Tepper plans on investing in his players noting his top priority is to build a new practice facility.

“One of the aspects is that we treat our players right, and we don't have any disadvantages to other teams in the league,” he said.

He also has his eye on another aspect.

"A lot of these things can't be done independently,” Tepper said. “I can't talk about a practice field without talking about new stadiums."

Tepper was clear he likes the current uptown location and even floated the possibility of redoing the stadium.

"This is the logical place for this stadium," Tepper said.

However, he also said that keeping the Bank of America Stadium uptown is not a done deal.

"I view this as, you know, the Carolina Panthers is both states, so we have to think about where we're putting things," Tepper said.

Channel 9 asked Tepper if he expected to receive tax dollars to help build the new facilities.

"There's another school of thought that says, ‘Hey, a billionaire can support his own sports team,’" Tepper said.

He defended a potential deal that would include new tax dollars.

He said stadium and future development activity helps boost local and state taxes.

"There are more tax dollars generated, then, that makes sense to split some of those tax dollars," Tepper said.

Tepper outlined what was needed for a future deal with city and state leaders.

"If we're talking about win-win situations, it can't just be for me and it can't just be for them,” he said. “So, it has to be a partnership."

Tepper becomes only the second owner in team history. He started work on Monday.

“I am thrilled to begin this new era of Carolina Panthers football and am humbled by the overwhelming excitement and support for the team," Tepper said in a statement Monday. "On behalf of the fans and myself, I thank Jerry Richardson for bringing the team to the Carolinas and for entrusting me with its future. Winning is the most important thing both on the field and in the community, and I am committed to winning a Super Bowl championship together. I look forward to being part of the Panthers’ family and to supporting this flourishing region.”

Tepper bought the team from founder Jerry Richardson for $2.2 billion -- the most ever paid for an NFL franchise.

Richardson put the team up for sale in December after reports of sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace, which the league later confirmed.

Tepper made clear it's a fresh start for the Panthers’ workplace culture.

"I like to have an open environment,” Tepper said. “A one, big-family environment where everybody feels safe like a family."

Tepper said, under Richardson, there was a failure to make sure problems were reported internally.

"There's going to be no impediment to that in the future," Tepper said.

Tepper also indicated he's finalizing new leadership on the business side of the team.

He said a new team president would be named soon to implement his vision.

"I can't emphasize enough the openness I plan this organization to have," Tepper said.

There are still questions on why Tepper agreed to keep Richardson’s statue in place at the stadium as part of his deal to buy the Panthers.

It is also unknown how long he’s required to keep the statue standing.

"Listen, it's a new day for this organization and hopefully we'll have bigger and better things to come, including Super Bowl championships in the future," Tepper said.

Tepper signed an agreement to buy the team on May 16. The deal was approved at the NFL owners meeting in Atlanta on May 22.

[RELATED: Ex-Panthers owner Richardson fined $2.75M for workplace misconduct]

Richardson wrote a farewell letter, thanking fans.

Richardson said in part, “I wish Mr. Tepper all the best; the team is in good hands. The stadium is a wonderful place to watch a game with friends and family. Carolina is and will be a contender. From the thousands of people who come every year to training camp to the millions of fans who come to the stadium or follow the team every day, we thank you for making a home for Panthers football in your hearts."

The Carolina Panthers also announced Monday that Chief Operating Officer Tina Becker has resigned. Becker was with the Panthers for 19 seasons and served as COO since Dec. 2017.

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