SHELBY, NC (WBTV) - A former Carolina Panthers player is suing the city of Shelby over a failed deal involving a multi-million dollar sports complex.
In February of 2018, we talked to Willie Green about his plans for the space. At that time, he told us he had spent months renovating a historical school building. He says he was hopeful for the deal with the city of Shelby, but that didn’t happen.
The former football player is suing for racial discrimination, he feels like he wasn’t given a fair chance. According to lawsuit, city officials stated Green was not qualified and did not have enough resources to get a project like this off the ground. But, he says officials never presented proof to back up their claims.
Green dreamed of putting a sports complex next to Shelby High School right off Highway 74.
“This could create that next Super Bowl player, that next all-American, this could create a lot more opportunity,” said Green in a 2018 interview with WBTV.
Back then, Green said blueprints for the all-inclusive facility -that included basketball courts and areas for cheerleaders, gymnasts and martial arts - were pretty much in the final stages.
“We’re ready to go as far as the building. Now it’s just working out all the details. Making sure we’re following all the North Carolina legislative compliance,” Green also said in that 2018 interview.
He says he was trying to form a public-private partnership with the city. That way a portion of tax payer dollars would go towards constructing the facility. But, those details never were worked out.
According to court documents, Shelby’s mayor and city manager seemed to be on board with Willie’s ideas at first, but eventually pulled away after saying Willie was not qualified and did not have adequate resources to fund his side of the project.
WBTV’s Bria Bell reached out to the attorney who’s representing the city of Shelby, but she declined to comment and wants to let things play out in court. The attorney who’s representing Willie in this case, told Bell that this situation is just another example of the challenge’s minorities have faced in the past and continue to face.