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Panthers practice stadium put on hold a month ago, still no signs project could restart

David Tepper and the Panthers have remained silent. The Panthers’ silence is being filled with statements from other people that are part of this deal.
Construction has been paused since March 7, and has not resumed despite York County passing a new plan nearly three weeks ago.
Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 6:16 PM EDT
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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - Construction on the Carolina Panthers’ state-of-the-art $800 million headquarters and practice facility in Rock Hill is still on pause as city and county leaders try to work out a new deal with the team.

It has been two weeks since the York County Council voted on a new finance plan hoping to once again get the project rolling.

In those two weeks, David Tepper and the Panthers have remained silent. The Panthers’ silence is being filled with statements from other people that are part of this deal.

As time continues to tick without any work being done on this massive project, people are using their words to try to urge the Panthers to get the ball rolling again.

Related: Rock Hill, S.C. leaders accept county’s financial plan to keep Panthers facility on track

The war of words continues in Rock Hill as the Panthers project remains on pause, but this time, one side, the Panthers, is silent as the other sends statement after statement to the public.

The statements started with York County Government on April 1 saying “Along with the public, we await word from GT Real Estate and Mr. Tepper as to the future of construction there.”

The next day, Councilman Bump Roddey posted speculations on Facebook saying “If Tepper says no thank you to the “Alternative Financing Option” the City of Rock Hill will see the biggest lawsuit in the city’s history. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.”

And now, York County Senator Wes Climer is making his own statements.

”It is extremely disappointing to work on a project for this long and then right when we get to the finish line, the other side backs away on this,” says Climer.

Climer says Tepper’s behavior has implications across the board that he feels reflect poorly on the NFL.

WBTV has reported from sources that Tepper Sports and Entertainment representatives were in the room while Rock Hill and York County representatives came up with this new deal.

Climer confirms that and also tells us that Tepper’s representatives were given several options and the tax-free option was the one they chose to bring back to Tepper.

”I have every reason to believe this project is going to be completed. The local governments have done its part. The state has done its part. And I continue to believe that at some point reason will enter this equation. David Tepper will be a man of his word and this project will be completed,” says Climer.

Governor Henry McMaster’s office got back to WBTV with a comment. A spokesperson says the state has done everything it can to keep the project moving and now it’s up to the Panthers and local officials to find a solution.

A Panthers spokesperson told WBTV no comment.

This has been a month of back and forth, and most importantly a stalled project, so here it was has happened so far.

  • On March 7, David Tepper announced he would be halting the project due to Rock Hill financing issues
  • WBTV learned the city of Rock Hill failed to issue its bond due at the end of February, which was the extended date from the original deal signed in 2019.
  • A week later, Rock Hill’s mayor and city manager spoke freely about this in a city council meeting saying they’ve done their “absolute and professional best”.
  • Then, WBTV learned through sources that some time between Tepper’s announcement and the York County resolution, Tepper Sports and Entertainment, the City of Rock Hill and York County met to discuss a new financial plan. This, again, was confirmed by Climer.
  • The new financial deal announcement came March 21 when York County Council narrowly passed a resolution to introduce a new tax-free plan for this project. A week later, Rock Hill unanimously supported that plan with their own resolution.

Climer says it has been more than enough time for a decision to be made.

”Now it’s time for David Tepper to be a man of his word, to do what is right, to get this project completed,” says Climer.

In Oct 2020, the Carolina Panthers revealed renderings of their new headquarters and practice facility coming to Rock Hill.

Related: Carolina Panthers reveal renderings of HQ, practice facility in Rock Hill, S.C.

It was a joint reveal from the Panthers, York County, and the City of Rock Hill. The mixed-use site was designed to host Tepper Sports & Entertainment and become a destination for people all over the region.

When completed, the development will include restaurants, retail, a healthcare facility, apartments, hotels, trails, and office space.

The facility will also include a 120,000-square foot indoor practice facility, a 113,000-square foot multipurpose sports and entertainment venue, and outdoor practice fields. The indoor practice field features 80-foot tall operable glass doors and can host athletic events and games, concerts, and other corporate events.

Among the team’s amenities will be a 20,000 square-foot weight room, a 6,000 square-foot locker room, and 5,000 square-foot hydrotherapy room to aid players’ rehab and recovery.

Key public-facing areas within the development site are highlighted by “The Park.” That is the 5,000-seat outdoor, multipurpose stadium designed to host events like high school football games, soccer games, concerts, and more.

“The Grove” is the open space within the site that has a series of reflecting pools, lighting, and landscape.

“‘The Park’ itself, with its scalability between 5,000 and as high as 20,000, I think is a great platform for festivals, concerts — all kinds of large ticketed events,” Hart said. “We are working with the Rock Hill school district to make that available for high school sports, high school football, and all kinds of high school activities: proms, gatherings, conferences, and educational programs.”

There will also be approximately 2.5 miles of public trails connected to Rock Hill’s multi-use path system.

The project will include significant improvements to local infrastructure, including a new interchange off of I-77. Over 13,000 feet of new public streets and 2,600 parking spaces are planned in addition to the sidewalks and trails for cyclists, runners, and walkers.

“It’s all designed to look great, feel great, and spur great development opportunities for anyone who wants to come,” Hart said.

In April 2020, York County leaders approved the incentive deal centered around the new headquarters and practice facility for the Panthers in Rock Hill.

It was one of the most significant public hearings York County held in years when the final procedural vote on the incentive deal, named “Project Avalanche” came.

Project Avalanche is an economic incentive deal related to the Carolina Panthers headquarters and practice site move from Charlotte to Rock Hill. The plan is to annex the site - currently surrounded by but not included in Rock Hill - into the city.

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