Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 1/29/13
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- When Charlotte landed a National Football League franchise 20 years ago, city leaders were ecstatic, calling it a critical step in putting North Carolina's largest city on the map. It seemed that the city's explosive growth -- when it became a major financial industry center -- coincided with the rise of the Panthers. But now the city and the franchise are at a crossroads. The Carolina Panthers want to renovate the outdoor 74,000-seat Bank of America Stadium. And the team is asking the public for help. On Monday, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and team President Danny Morrison met with new Gov. Pat McCrory and House Speaker Thom Tillis to discuss the multimillion-dollar project. Both politicians are from the Charlotte area, and McCrory was the city's mayor for 14 years. His first term was in 1995, the Panthers' inaugural season. Tillis said Tuesday that discussions have been preliminary but that there are fears from city and state leaders that the Pantherscould move if they don't receive help. Tillis said he's treating the Panthers like any other large business in North Carolina. He said the team creates 4,400 direct jobs and an estimated 1,500 indirect jobs. Moving the team out of the state is a real concern, Tillis said. "They are a major employer in North Carolina," said Tillis, adding that he meets with major businesses in the state "that are considering moving somewhere else, and that is a very real possibility for the Panthers." He said, though, there haven't been many details so far about what the team wants. "I've been clear with the Panthers organization that it is not appropriate to have state taxpayer dollars go directly into the stadium, so that's more or less a level set on our part," he said. Two weeks ago, Richardson met with City Council in a private session to talk about the money. The city has been doing most of the negotiations behind closed doors. The Panthers are seeking money from both the city and state to help offset the proposed 250 million project. One possible funding source: Doubling the prepared food and beverage tax to 2 percent. The state's General Assembly would have to approve the tax increase. In Charlotte, people are talking about it. "We should do everything we can to save the Panthers," said Troy Taylor, 44, a financial analyst and Panthers fan. "It's an NFL team. It helps with the city's profile -- especially when they play on national TV. They've become a big part of the city." But Shirley Parker wonders if the team should ask for taxpayer dollars. "Do they really need the money? Why can't they pay for it themselves? Why do sports teams always turn to the public?" asked the 55-year-old teacher. Mayor Anthony Foxx has declined to discuss the talks. But he said this week that the city would like to build on the success of this past summer's three-day Democratic National Convention, which drew 35,000 people to Charlotte and pumped nearly 164 million into the local economy. That includes bidding to host a Super Bowl. Charlotte is home to the headquarters of Bank of America and major operations for Wells Fargo, two of the largest U.S. financial institutions. Both are in the central business district, within walking distance of the stadium. The Panthers' stadium, which cost 190 million, was completed in 1996. It was paid for with private money collected through the sale of permanent seat licenses or PSLs, with the Panthers being the first NFL franchise to use that marketing model to raise money. Seventeen years later, Bank of America Stadium is considered a middle-aged stadium by NFL standards. Of the 31 stadiums in the league -- the Giants and Jets share one in New Jersey -- 25 have either been built or undergone renovations in excess of 100 million since the Panthers opened their facility. Three others in Atlanta, San Francisco and Minnesota are in the midst of either rebuilding or new stadium construction. Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium is considered a comparable stadium and it received a 375 million facelift in 2010. The Panthers invested more than 48 million in recent years on new scoreboards, club level seating and upgraded workout and equipment rooms. Public stadiums dotted the map for most of the 20th century, but the pace of public-private partnerships for new construction or renovation projects has accelerated over the past two decades. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones now controls a 1.15 billion stadium that Arlington, Texas, voters helped finance with increases in sales and hotel taxes. In Indianapolis, the state owns 4-year-old Lucas Oil Stadium, for which the state, city and surrounding counties covered most of the 720 million construction cost.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson being investigated for workplace misconduct

WATCH: Gronkowski refuses to discuss suspension, walks out of presser

Cousins complains refs unfairly target him on technicals

FIFA threatens to expel Spain from World Cup

Muhammad Wilkerson not traveling with Jets due to ‘coach’s decision’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Floyd Mayweather says UFC offered him $1 billion

Porzingis: Knicks fans should show Carmelo ‘love’ in return

Pete Carroll, Sean Payton fined for going onto field

Hot mic catches what LeBron James said to Lonzo Ball

Carlos Santana reportedly signs three-year deal with Phillies

Browns GM: Anything short of competing for division title in 2018 'unacceptable'

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mr. Jones goes to Washington

The 'It's the most wonderful bowl of the year' quiz

NHL Weekender: Bolts keep striking, Preds on the hunt

Chargers are the AFC team no one wants to play in January

Donald Trump's quotes vs. the sports world in 2017

Five MLB teams that should trade for Manny Machado

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Eight NFL teams who simply need to start over

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mr. Jones goes to Washington

NHL Weekender: Bolts keep striking, Preds on the hunt

The 'It's the most wonderful bowl of the year' quiz

Donald Trump's quotes vs. the sports world in 2017

Chargers are the AFC team no one wants to play in January

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker