"Speak Out" is an expression of opinion from the Editorial Board of WBTV, and is presented by General Manager, Nick Simonette.
October 26, 1993 -- fireworks lit up the night sky over uptown.
Charlotte celebrated the granting of an NFL expansion franchise to the Carolinas.
Team owner Jerry Richardson promised a Super Bowl championship in the first decade of play.
The reality is, Panthers fans have enjoyed just 4 winning seasons in 18.
Even so, there's little doubt the Panthers add to the vitality of the region.
And we surely hope the team can make upgrades to their stadium they say are needed for a greater fan experience.
The question is, who should pay for those improvements?
Charlotte's City Council -- meeting behind closed doors and out of the public's eye -- hastily committed $144 million, to be paid for by doubling the food and beverage tax.
The complete lack of transparency on the part of the Council is way out of bounds...and we think that play needs further review.
If any money comes from the taxpayers, it ought to be run by the voters first...and in a binding referendum.
The Panthers have marketed themselves as a Carolinas' (plural) team -- playing games in Charlotte, holding camp in Spartanburg, and drawing fans from both states.
So perhaps Columbia should be considered if money on the state level is sought.
At this point in the game, our editorial board is willing to punt on the question of public funding, but we think a time out is in order before play is resumed.
Tell us what YOU think. SpeakOut@wbtv.com.