Lawmakers moving quickly to lure Panthers to South Carolina

(via Carolina Panthers (custom credit))
Updated: Mar. 19, 2019 at 11:18 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina lawmakers are working quickly to pass legislation that would incentivize professional sports teams to set up shop in the Palmetto State.

This comes in response to a meeting Governor Henry McMaster and high-ranking lawmakers held with team owners with the Carolina Panthers.

Lawmakers said the NFL franchise is eyeing a potential move of their operations and practice facilities to either York or Lancaster Counties in South Carolina.

“South Carolina is on the map across the globe as a place that’s good for business,” South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ted Pitts said. “Professional football is a business.”

The Senate and House are moving companion legislation that let professional sports teams qualify for a job tax credit. This is used to bring in and keep growing businesses in industries, like manufacturing and tourism.

Right now under South Carolina law, pro sports teams don’t make the cut.

“A pro football player doesn’t necessarily fit the bill of a full-time employee that works 40 hours a week,” Pitts said

The Professional Sports Team Investment Act would add teams to the list of industries that can get this job tax credit. It would also consider players as full-time employees as long as they spend 180 days at the team’s facility in South Carolina for 80 percent of their day.

Pitts said any professional sports team in South Carolina could have a huge impact on the economy,

“I think aligning the state’s incentives with the economy coming to South Carolina is important,” he said.

If this legislation is signed as is by Gov. McMaster and the Carolina Panthers decide to build their new facilities in York County and bring 150 employees with them, their job tax credit would $225,000.

According to staff, this would reduce the general state tax revenue by $225,000 starting as early as 2021 and ending in 2026.

This legislation would also exempt a professional sports team from county license fees or taxes. The teams would not have to pay a business license tax.

No deal has been finalized by the Panthers to move their team operations and practice facilities into South Carolina but lawmakers say they hope to have the legislation signed by the Governor as soon as possible.

Subcommittees in both the House and Senate voted to move their version of the bill into full committee.

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