Panthers facility in Rock Hill put on hold as city is a year late on payment, source says
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER) - Construction of the Carolina Panthers’ state-of-the-art headquarters in Rock Hill has been placed on pause, Tepper Sports & Entertainment said Monday.
The first phase of the construction was slated to be completed in 2023, but the City of Rock Hill did not make its initial payment, which was due in March 2021, according to a source familiar with the situation.
The company continued construction but never received the payment from the city.
“We are committed to bettering the Carolinas community that supports our team and players,” Tepper Sports & Entertainment said in the statement. “To that end, while GT Real Estate Holdings, LLC has invested more than $170 million into the development in Rock Hill, our partners have been unable to contribute the agreed upon investment to fund the construction of the public infrastructure. “Given the economic realities, the difficult but prudent decision has been made to pause the project. The on-going work will continue with our partners to find an economically acceptable solution for all parties to continue this project in Rock Hill.”
The awaited investment from the city was expected to fund the project’s infrastructure, which includes roads, water and power lines and sewage, the source said. TS&E will continue to pay all the workers on the site and extend their wages a week from the moment the project is paused.
A little after 4 p.m. Monday, Rock Hill mayor John Gettys said he’d recently spoken with team officials. He said the team plans to evaluate the project given recent economic variables like COVID and inflation.
“We’re going to sit back and wait to see what they plan to do,” Gettys said. As for whether the entire Rock Hill project is in jeopardy, Gettys said it’s a team decision. “That’s really a question for them,” he said. “That’s not my impression from our conversation.”
Gettys said it isn’t a question of city commitment. The city, county and state have been part of various economic incentive agreements to lure the Panthers project. The city agreed to put decades of potential tax revenue from the project toward promised infrastructure upgrades for the team.
“We were all-in from the beginning,” Gettys said. Rock Hill City Manager David Vehaun said that to his knowledge, “the city has met all financial obligations we’re required under the agreement.”
The Panthers broke ground on the 240-acre property in July 2020. The 700,000-square-foot training facility is supposed to include an indoor practice field and is expected to help promote growth in the surrounding area, while also improving the environment for the team.
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