• With football season over, all eyes on who will buy Panthers

    By: Tina Terry


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Super Bowl is over and now the big question in Charlotte is: Who will buy the Carolina Panthers?

    Charlotte city leaders have told Channel 9 that the sale could come quickly once the football season ends.

    [Panthers Sale: After playoff loss, what's next for team?]

    [NFL commissioner wants Panthers to stay in Charlotte]

    City Councilman Tariq Bokhari told Eyewitness News reporter Tina Terry that the question of who will purchase the Panthers is as unclear now as it was late last year.

    “The amount of information we had then is pretty much the amount of information we have now,” Bokhari said.

    Jerry Richardson, who founded the team and became principal owner in 1995, announced in December he would sell his 48 percent stake in the team after the NFL started investigating allegations of workplace misconduct.

    City leaders told Channel 9 there are six groups in the running to buy the team. Two of them are local and the rest are outside North Carolina.

    Charlotte businessman Felix Sabates said he’s still part of one local group interested in buying the team. But he said he couldn’t comment on the sale.

    [Sabates: 'We're not doing this just to play in the owner's box']

    “My ultimate hope is whoever becomes ownership, they see the same things we see in Charlotte,” Bokhari said.

    Sport business expert Patrick Rishe spoke to Terry by phone and said whether the buyer is local or out of state, he believes the Panthers will stay in Charlotte.

    “I don’t think there is any other market that’s a good fit for pro ball,” Rishe said.

    But Rishe said an outside buyer will have to play catch-up.

    “They’ve gotta learn the market, they gotta learn the people, they gotta learn the demographics,” Rishe said.

    CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 08: A general view of the Seattle Seahawks against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 8, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Rishe added that any buyer may ask taxpayers to pitch in when it comes to bringing Bank of America Stadium up to speed with newer facilities in other states.

    [Will Bank of America Stadium remain home to Panthers?]

    “We’ll have to see what’s being asked. We’ll have to see how it plays into our broader budget,” Rishe said.

    Bank of America Stadium is 22 years old. The city of Charlotte agreed to put in $75 million six years ago for stadium renovations.

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