Hundreds welcome Carolina Panthers to SC at Rock Hill pep rally

Updated: Jun. 5, 2019 at 7:30 AM EDT
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Hundreds of people gathered in Rock Hill’s Fountain Park Wednesday morning for a pep rally to celebrate the Carolina Panthers moving team headquarters to South Carolina.

Governor Henry McMaster signed, for ceremonial purposes, what’s been called the Panthers bill. McMaster officially sign the bill into law on May 22, 2019. The legislation gives tax breaks to professional sports teams that move to South Carolina. Under the legislation, the Panthers could receive up to $115 million dollars in tax breaks over the next 15 years.

RELATED: Senate approves multi-million tax break bill to bring Panthers to SC

Fans who attended the rally were ecstatic.

“Oh, I think it’s just great. I think it’s great for Rock Hill. There are so many panthers’ fans down here in South Carolina. I really think it has just brought everybody together,” Rock Hill resident Catherine Fricke said.

“South Carolina is always coming to North Carolina to support them anyway so why not share,” Rock Hill resident Janette Wylie said.

“It’s a big, big, big thing for Rock Hill. Jobs, opportunities, expansion,” Rock Hill resident Randall Codrington said.

Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys compared the transformation in South Carolina from the Panthers move to the transformation Florida experienced from Disney World.

“Fifty, sixty years ago in the State of Florida they created something called Disney World,” Gettys said. “It changed Florida forever. Now this development here in Rock Hill won’t be as big in scope of Disney World but it will be just as important for South Carolina, just as important for Rock Hill as it was for Orlando and Florida.”

Congressman Ralph Norman who represents the fifth district, including York County, presented Carolina Panthers Owner David Tepper with a hat signed by fellow members of Congress, an American flag that was flown over the nation’s capital, and a Congressional coin.

Norman who is also a developer in York County explained how the area will change from the Panthers relocating.

“As a developer, to have this as the center piece of a 200-acre tract of land, watch what you see around it,” Norman said. “And as Mayor Gettys said, this may not be the scope of Disney World, but it sure is a close second.”

Tepper spoke to the crowd about what he envisions for the site in Rock Hill.

“We’re talking about potentially world class orthopedic places coming down here to Rock hill, world class executive medicine coming down here to Rock Hill. People come down to Rock Hill, using the airport over there from all over the country for use of those services,” David Tepper said. “And we’re going to build a world class facility down here to. So this is going to be a showcase down here too. This is going to be a showcase down here and bring people down here to this region. We are going to have a sense of excellence not only up there for the football team, but for everyone in here in Rock Hill, South Carolina.”

The Carolina Panthers have not officially said where in Rock Hill they will construct their new headquarters. However, The State newspaper in Columbia released renderings from the Carolina Panthers showing a site near Eden Terrace, Anderson Road and I-77.

Governor Henry McMaster said in a press conference after the pep rally today, that negotiations for a site are still ongoing.

Tepper says Spartanburg will not be forgotten. He says the Panthers will continue to have a presence there.

“From the time the Governor introduced me to Mr. Tepper I’ve been impressed with him and his team. It’s unbelievable what this man is going to do to this community in South Carolina,” Senate President Harvey Peeler said.

Representative Gary Simrill described living under the shadow of Charlotte. He says the Panthers’ move is a show of regionalism.

“You ever try to grow grass under a big oak tree? It sucks the nutrients out of the ground and shades it. Well Charlotte is the big oak tree and Mayor, we still grew grass anyway,” Simrill said.

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