CHARLOTTE — 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.
Tillis said discussions have been preliminary but that there are fears from city and state leaders that the Panthers could 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.
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.
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.
Panthers coach knows he has to win next season
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson doesn’t need to remind coach Ron Rivera just how important winning in 2013 is to his future as an NFL coach.
He already knows.
Rivera told The AP that when he met with Richardson earlier this month and was informed he’d be returning for a third season in Carolina, he wasn’t given a make-the-playoffs-or-else ultimatum from his boss.
“He doesn’t want me looking over my shoulder,” Rivera said. “He wants me to coach.”
But while the coach said Richardson has been supportive, he acknowledged there’s an underlying sense of urgency.
“I understand we need to win — and he knows I understand that,” Rivera said. “He’s been forthright and direct. Now it’s up to me.”
Richardson’s patience is wearing thin.
The Panthers haven’t made the postseason since 2008 and haven’t won a playoff game since 2005.
Carolina went 6-10 and 7-9 the past two seasons under Rivera.
Bills to play one Toronto game a year
The Buffalo Bills will play one regular-season game a year at Toronto’s Rogers Centre for the next five seasons.
The agreement between the team and Rogers Media includes one preseason game in 2015. Buffalo has won one of its regular-season games in Toronto.