by Sam Hieb
Technically it’s not Charlotte’s bid for a Major League Soccer franchise; it’s Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper’s bid—the city would just put up $200 million for upgrades to Bank of America Stadium.
In today’s editorial, the Uptown Paper of Record asks a few questions:
In some ways, it’s not a bad deal. The city, after all, committed almost $300 million in 2003 to bringing an NBA franchise back to Charlotte. We got more than a team with that investment, certainly — we got an arena and the big events it subsequently has attracted. Still, $200 million to secure a franchise in a growing U.S. league is at least a little intriguing.
But the best way to judge Charlotte’s potential investment is a way Tepper and any businessperson would appreciate: What are the comps these days on public dollars and MLS facilities? The answer: $100 million is on the high end, and $200 million would eclipse most every other city’s investment by tens of millions. Most MLS teams, including those in Sacramento and St. Louis — sought less than $100 million in recent years. A few asked for no public dollars for facilities.
….The city also should ask about Tepper’s plans to eventually ask for the city’s help with a domed stadium that would house the Panthers and the possible MLS team. Tepper might see that as separate from the MLS proposal, but a city investment in sports facilities comes from one finite bucket of tourism-related taxes. Also, it’s politically dicey for the city to pay for hundreds of millions for Bank of America Stadium upgrades if that stadium might be replaced in the near future. Never mind that any request for public money — even if it comes from tourism taxes — is viewed amid the backdrop of other needs that the city still needs to address.
Mark my words–we have a standoff approaching. South Carolina is waiting and willing.