CHARLOTTE, N.C. — During the course of an introductory lunch at Bank of America Stadium this summer, Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles quickly found some common ground. Both are parents of daughters who are planning weddings, a topic they were happy to discuss during their meeting.
Tepper, the middle-class Pittsburgh kid who grew up to be a hedge-fund manager with a fortune estimated at $11 billion, and Lyles, the city’s first African-American female mayor who came of age during the difficult days of the segregated South, spent some time nurturing another marriage — the one between the Panthers and city government.
The next 12 months will reveal whether that partnership goes from honeymoon to solid partnership, or devolves into squabbling and recrimination. Tepper bought the NFL franchise for $2.275 billion in July from Panthers founder Jerry Richardson.
Tepper has been clear in a handful of exchanges with reporters about his business goals. He wants to figure out how to update the 22-year-old stadium to improve the fan experience and generate more revenue (not necessarily in that order), he wants the team to build a new practice and training headquarters to keep pace with the rest of the NFL, and he wants to put the 74,000-seat uptown stadium to use more often.
He’s mentioned hosting the state high school football championship, booking more concerts — under Richardson, the stadium had all of two concerts in 22 years — and adding a Major League Soccer team.
Tepper has publicly said the stadium is right where it should be, but whether he thinks it can be sustained a decade or two more through renovations is unknown. If he wants a new stadium, how soon will he want it? And how much of the cost will he be willing to bear? How much taxpayer money will he want to help pay for a new stadium?
CBJ’s latest cover story takes an in-depth look at the possibilities for remaking the stadium and surrounding area, how other cities have made sports-driven developments work and what such projects could mean for the home team as well as the city.
Find the complete feature here.
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