‘Panthers are the long game, not the short.’ Charlotte leaders respond to potential facility move

South Carolina is working to land a new headquarters and training facility for the Carolina Panthers
Updated: Mar. 14, 2019 at 5:30 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -A day after a meeting between Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and South Carolina leaders about potentially moving part of the teams operations to South Carolina, Charlotte leaders are responding.

It was reported Wednesday that Tepper is exploring the idea of moving the Panthers’ headquarters and training facilities to South Carolina.

“This was expected. We knew that Mr. Tepper had intended to be much more intentional about the two states, one team approach,” said Charlotte Councilman Larken Egleston. “If you are Mr. Tepper, why would you not want to have a physical presence in both states? Why not have two governors that are working with you as a partner? Four United State Senators working with you as a partner?”

However, Egleston as well as other city leaders caution that there is a much larger picture the city must look.

“I don’t think there is any interest in fighting South Carolina I mean, they are a very close partner and important to the Charlotte Region,” said Egleston.

For a city that is usually very vocal about fighting for opportunities and development, there was a silence Wednesday that surprised some people.

In a short statement, the Mayor of Charlotte said, “what is good for South Carolina is good for Charlotte.”

WBTV caught up with Mayor Vi Lyles at an event Thursday.

“I will tell you that the Panthers are the long game, not the short game, so we are not going to respond to things going on,” said Lyles. “South Carolina, on our border, is a part of our region. We are all about building a regional alliance.”

From the beginning, David Tepper has made it clear that the team needs a new practice facility and he also wants to have presence in both states.

The City of Charlotte will bring an offer to the team to keep the current facility, but a handful of council members say that is not the number one goal.

“The priority is keeping the Panthers playing their games on Sunday in uptown Charlotte. That is the real revenue creator,” said Charlotte Councilman Justin Harlow.

The land that sits behind the stadium and houses the practice fields and facility is owned by the city and leased to the Panthers.

“That land could be re-purposed right below the stadium and right by the future gateway station that is already being built,” said Egleston.

Charlotte City Councilman Ed Driggs also cautioned that there is a bigger picture that the city has to consider.

“If we are not making a lot of noise it is because of the context of the bigger picture and conversation that we are having,” said Driggs. “We will look at a situation like that, see what it would take to be competitive, see if it is worth it to us. It needs to make sense.”

Driggs said he would not speak specifics and said he was not privy to all conversations that are being had but admits a lot can be done on the property around the stadium.

“You create around where they play all sorts of entertainment and venues and it becomes a big development opportunity for the city,” said Driggs.

If the Panthers were to move those elements of the team to South Carolina, it may also open up more opportunity to utilize Bank of America Stadium for events other than football games. Tepper has said in the past he would like to see that happen.

The talks among leaders in South Carolina is far from a done deal and the Panthers organization has not made a comment on their future plans.

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