by Michael Lowrey
Seems that $125 million is not enough of your local tax money to appease crony capitalist Jerry Richardson and friends while addressing the worries of the Charlotte power structure. Now the total has gone up to $143.75 million. That’s the original $125 million plus $1 million a year for 15 years for stadium maintenance plus $3.75 million for the cost of directing traffic. (the deal would tie the team to the city through 2027.) The team also wants $62.5 million from the state. And no, none of the parties involved see the need to do business in public.
If you’re wondering what the Bank of America Stadium upgrades exactly involve, we now have sort of an answer from the AP. Escalators and new video boards only come to $87 million of the $254 million in upgrades (plus a possible $30 million indoor practice facility on top of that).
And then there’s the still dimly understood issue of what the remaining revenues from a higher prepared food tax would go for. City leaders haven’t really enlightened us to that (imagine that). From the UPoR:
The crux of the stadium plan rests on an increase to the sales tax levied in Charlotte. The hike would raise the total sales tax on food and beverages to 9.25 percent.
The city has proposed that the tax hike end after 30 years, although the City Council could vote to repeal the tax at any time.
The city’s plan is to pay the debt off in 15 years. The tax is expected to raise $20 million a year, and would likely grow annually, barring a steep recession
Hagemann said there would likely be additional money left over. The tentative plan is to allow that money to be spent to help the hospitality industry, possibly with projects such as renovating Bojangles’ Coliseum to attract amateur sports.
The tax money couldn’t be used for projects such as the streetcar, under the proposal.
Saying that the extra prepared meals tax money won’t fund the streetcar is really beside the point. Money is a fungible asset. The issue is whether the extra prepared tax receipts could be used to fund any of the items in Curt Walton’s $926 million proposed capital plan. And yes, they could. The Bojangles’ Coliseum renovation is one of the items in Walton’s proposal, thus making it more likely that the streetcar will be built.
Slightly dated bonus observation: The Charlotte Observer reports that PSLs only have value as along at the Panthers play in their current stadium. But check out this bit of revisionist history:
The Panthers are publicly committed to staying in Charlotte and continuing to play at their stadium, which opened in 1996. Experts who follow the NFL say it would make no sense for the Panthers to leave Charlotte, a fast-growing and prosperous city that has supported the team.
But that prospect of the team moving – however remote – is playing a part in negotiations with the City Council.
Some council members and business leaders are worried about the long-term future of the Panthers. The will of majority owner Jerry Richardson reportedly calls for the team to be sold within two years of his death, according to a source close to the team. The fear is that a new owner could easily move the team to Los Angeles, which doesn’t have an NFL franchise.
As part of their debate, some city council members have said in closed session that spending tax dollars could be a way to contractually keep the team in Charlotte for a decade or so.
And when before has anyone in this town talked about “experts who follow the NFL say it would make no sense for the Panthers to leave Charlotte?” The mantra coming from the powers that be has been pure, irrational fear.