Panthers owner David Tepper open to a new stadium, but he won’t build it ‘alone’

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 10:56 PM EDT
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - David Tepper has made no secret that he doesn’t see the Carolina Panthers’ long-term future at Bank of America Stadium.

For years, Tepper, owner of the Panthers and Charlotte FC, has commented on his desire for a new stadium and his interest in building an entertainment district around it.

On Tuesday, he reaffirmed his commitment to a potential stadium in Charlotte, but also made it clear he doesn’t anticipate embarking on this project on his own.

“At some point, that building will fall down. Like I said before and I’ll say it again, I’m not building a stadium alone,” Tepper said Tuesday. “The community is going to have to want it. If I’m a third, and the community’s a third, and eventually in the future, personal seat license (owners) are a third, or whatever we do, it’s a partnership.

“If people don’t want it, they don’t want it. I’m not going to force it on anybody, I don’t want to force it on anybody.”

While the specifics of the future home stadium of the team remain up in the air, an example of their commitment to a different city, Rock Hill, S.C., was on display. The Panthers won’t officially move there until 2023, and buildings are under construction where mounds of dirt previously stood, but the team is prioritizing making a mark on the city of Rock Hill.

“We’re here for the long haul,” Nicole Tepper, wife of David Tepper, said.

The Teppers demonstrated that by donating $500,000 to Miracle Park in Rock Hill. The Carolina Panthers Charities also announced a separate $200,000 grant. The 15-acre park will allow people with all abilities to participate in a wide variety of sports.

Like the plans for the new facility in Rock Hill, the impact of the pandemic has shifted the timeline on when a new stadium could be a reality. The South Carolina facility is opening a year later than originally planned, and a new stadium also remains something that is still far down the road. Expecting help from the city of Charlotte, when it comes to financing a new stadium, is still a part of the plan for the almost 25-year old venue, one of the oldest in the NFL.

Since 2019, Tepper has expressed a desire to create a stadium with a roof in order to increase the number of events that could be held in Charlotte, such as the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four. But he said Tuesday that after the past year with COVID-19, “there’s no way in hell” he believes that would be the right choice.

“The weather is too beautiful (in Charlotte). If anything, (COVID) shows you it’s really an advantage to have that kind of building,” Tepper said.

As far as where a new stadium would go, Tepper said that the Pipe and Foundry site in uptown Charlotte near Bank of America Stadium is still an option, but there are currently no ongoing discussions. Another option he expressed was building a new stadium where the current one is located and having the team play elsewhere for multiple years while it is built.

“Where we are is a great place in Charlotte ... we’ll see what happens,” Tepper said. “If (Charlotte Pipe and Foundry CEO) Roddey Dowd wants to get generous and donate the land to the city, then we could put a stadium over there. So maybe you could talk to Roddey about that.”

With all of the future stadium plans up in the air, the team has continued to renovate Bank of America Stadium, especially for the introduction of MLS next spring. This summer, a turf field is being put in for the first time in the stadium’s history and there have been new suites introduced along with other features.

“We’re trying to make the building we have the best possible building we can have,” Tepper said.

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