by Michael Lowrey
Last week, the Carolina Panthers said that they weren’t asking for an addition in $50 million in money from the city. While this sounds like it’s a significant development development, in reality it’s a non-event. As Erik Spanberg of the Charlotte Business Journal reports, the team never had any intention of actually asking for the money, which would have required the team to stay in the city for an extra four years.
So why is it even in the contract between the city and the Panthers? Simple: because the city wanted it in there — the powers that be in this town don’t believe that the Queen City is NFL-worthy absent a whole lot of public dollars being delivered to the team’s owners resulting in a legally-binding promise to keep the team here for some number of years. The $88 million in public money that the team did take requires that they stay in Charlotte through 2018 and repay some money if they leave between 2019 and 2022. Had the Panthers accepted, the city would have achieved its goal of tying the team to the city for longer.
So what happens next? At some point, the Panthers will be back asking for more incentive money, and they’ll be seeking a lot more than the $12.5 million a year towards stadium improvements that they are currently getting. And unless there’s a change in attitude at city hall and among the Uptown powers-that-be, the city will again quickly give the team everything it wants and then some.