‘Panthers Interchange’ being completed on I-77, despite practice facility situation
The $48 million project is expected to be completed in May.
ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - More than a month ago, Tepper Sports and Entertainment halted work on the Carolina Panthers’ massive, state-of-the-art practice facility and team headquarters that were slated to be finished in 2023.
The deal was terminated just this week as disputes over finances have gone unresolved.
However, drivers could still see some construction happening around the Rock Hill area.
This multimillion-dollar project is the gateway to the Panthers’ practice facility, as well as several roads in the surrounding area. It is nestled in between exits 82 and 79 on I-77. When the project is finished, there will be a massive bridge and easy-access exits.
A $36 million grant from the US Department of Transportation, along with an equal-amount match from the state’s Department of Commerce will make up most of the funding.
Again, the highway project is the only construction project going on in Rock Hill for the Panthers right now.
“That’s a disappointment,” Gov. Henry McMaster said. “I know that they’ve been trying to work it out. It could be nice if it could be worked out. That’s what we were hoping for. Again, I’m disappointed at this point [that] it appears they will not be a part of this great prosperity.”
At an event in Fort Mill on Thursday, it was uncertain whether or not McMaster believed the facility project could eventually be completed.
“We’ve done our part,” he said. “The state has done precisely what we’ve agreed to do.”
He said the state is not only holding up its end of the agreement, but is also in the process of delivering on the interchange as well.
”We’re well on track to make the May 23 completion date,” operations manager Brian Stumph said.
Stumph said this is a unique construction project because of that timeline. They broke ground late in the summer of 2021. When completed, it will lead drivers to where the Panthers’ facility could eventually stand.
It is getting completed regardless of whether or not the Panthers move into town.
”Our only slow down’s been weather and the winter, but we’re making great progress in spite of that,” Stumph said. “We’re focused on our contract, our schedule, our deadlines we’ve committed to.”
This project will go on because it is state-run and state-funded. The total cost will be about $48 million.
SCDOT hired Stumph’s company, United Infrastructure Group, along with Blythe Development - not Tepper or his company. Because of that, he has no control over stopping the highway project.
”The more places you can come on and off [the interstate] leads to more economic development, makes it better for the motorist, takes away congestion,” Stumph said.
The project has not impacted traffic yet, but the road will close during the first week of May in 30-minute intervals to move steel beams needed for bridge construction.
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