ROCK HILL, S.C. — Two States, One Team is now a reality as Governor Henry McMaster signed a $115 million incentives bill into law. It means the Carolina Panthers will build a state of the art headquarters in Rock Hill.
"We got the NFL coming to the little town of Rock Hill here," said fan Norm Baney.
Hundreds of people packed Fountain Park Wednesday morning to celebrate the occasion, alongside the governor, Panthers players and coaches, mascot Sir Purr, cheerleaders and lawmakers who pushed to bring the Panthers across state lines.
"It's gonna bring a huge buzz to our city, and we're already a great city to begin with so this is only gonna make it even better," said Panthers fan Michelle Dieduardo.
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Residents in Rock Hill told South Carolina Bureau Reporter Greg Suskin even when the bill was being kicked around in Columbia, they never lost faith. They said they knew the Panthers would come to Rock Hill.
"Incredible, disbelief, but yes! This is my town and my team," fan Norma Gray said. "This is a double. You get two!"
Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper was one of the speakers at the ceremony. His message was simple and straightforward -- this is not just a turf field coming to Rock Hill.
Tepper talked about what else was coming to the city such as world-class medical facilities, a state of the art practice facility, offices, shops and restaurants all between Cherry Road and Dave Lyle Boulevard.
"This is going to be a showcase down here," Tepper said. "We're going to bring people down to the region. We'll have just a sense of excellence, not only up there for the football team, but everything we do down here in Rock Hill, South Carolina."
Tepper also said he would not abandon the Panthers' future in Spartanburg, their training camp home, suggesting they would bring a fan fest event to the area.
In a statement, Wofford College said they are grateful for the last two decades of hosting the Panthers' training camp and they will support whatever is in the best interest of the Panthers.
WOFFORD COLLEGE STATEMENT:
As you know, the Panthers have held training camp at Wofford College since 1995, thanks to the vision of former Carolina Panthers owner and 1959 Wofford graduate Jerry Richardson. Hosting the Panthers for over two decades has been an incredible opportunity for Wofford, for Spartanburg and for the entire Upstate community.
We are focused on making this year’s training camp the best one yet, and we support whatever is in the best interest of the Carolina Panthers moving forward.
McMaster officially signed the bill into law May 22. It exempts the Panthers from paying state income taxes for players, coaches and other employees for 15 years as long as they use the money to build their new complex near Rock Hill.
Opponents said the state shouldn't have to help a billionaire NFL owner.
The new facilities are expected to be up and running in time for the 2021 football season and the team will continue to play games in Charlotte.
© 2020 Associated Press