York County leaders move a step forward with tax incentives for Panthers practice facility

CHARLOTTE — The York County Council passed the first reading of two ordinances on a big investment the Carolina Panthers.

It’s close to the final step in the process to lure the NFL team’s front office, practice fields and much more to the area, a project nicknamed “Avalanche” that could bring $3.7 billion in revenue and more than 5,000 jobs to the state.

There will be another reading Monday.

On June 5 2019, in Rock Hill, South Carolina’s governor signed a bill to give $115 million in incentives to set the deal in motion.

Fast forward nine months and nothing has moved quickly in this process.

That 238 acres of land off Eden Terrace and I-77 has still not been sold to the Panthers or annexed into the city.

Channel 9 spoke to County Councilwoman Allison Love about the time it's taken to reach an agreement between York County and the team.

"It's not the county that's held this up. I feel like this is county property, and really they should have started out dealing with the county," Love said.

Like in many big economic deals, there are lots of entities involved, this time including the county, the City of Rock Hill, the Rock Hill School District and the state government, including the officials who will oversee the building of a new I-77 interchange between Dave Lyle Boulevard and Cherry Road.

However, the fact that so few of the details of the agreement have been revealed is a concern to Love.

“The public is just unaware. All this time, it’s been very frustrating for me because there’s been no information given to the public,” she said.

Channel 9 was unable to get a copy of the new ordinance even hours before the council vote Wednesday night.

Due to contractual negotiations, we were told it was not being released. That should change soon however, because a public hearing is expected on the agreement before the end of the month.

Council members told Channel 9 there were two sticking points as negotiations went along.

If apartments are built on the site, the county wanted to make sure they can collect taxes as they would for any other development. That means they are taxed based on each unit not as a flat fee.

Also, York County wanted the Panthers to guarantee a development of close to $1 billion. That’s more than double the $400 million guarantee the team first pitched last year. Council members said they needed that guarantee if they were going to hand over significant tax breaks.

Councilman William “Bump” Roddey said it this way.

"We were miles apart on what we thought, and what they thought it would take to make this deal happen. We really wanted to make sure that we protected York County voters and taxpayers, and protected the City of Rock Hill," he said.

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