CHARLOTTE — The Carolina Panthers, who are seeking more than $200 million in public funds for stadium renovations, made nearly $100 million in net income during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, according to an audit of the team obtained by Deadspin.com.
The audit showed the team had net income of nearly $72 million for the year ending in March 2011, after the team went 2-14. A year later, during rookie quarterback Cam Newton’s first season, the team’s net income was $26 million.
The drop was due to the team spending significantly more on player salaries and signing bonuses.
The report offers a rare glimpse into closely held financial information of the NFL. It also represents a twist in the Panthers’ request for taxpayer money.
The audit doesn’t cover the most recent season — the first played under the NFL’s new nine-year TV contract extensions, which are reported to increase per-team payouts by 60 percent through 2022. The Panthers received $213 million from the league’s TV and radio contract in 2011 and 2012, according to the audit.
Bank of America Stadium, which opened in 1996, was mostly funded by majority owner Jerry Richardson and fans who bought Permanent Seat Licenses.
In January, the team asked the Charlotte City Council for $125 million to help pay for stadium renovations, which would include new escalators, video boards and improvements to clubs and suites. The city was also asked to contribute roughly $19 million over 15 years to help pay for stadium maintenance and traffic control.
The team has asked the state to contribute $62.5 million.
The total cost of the renovations would be nearly $300 million.
In return, the team would be “tethered” to the city for 15 years starting this summer.
Richardson, 76, has said he won’t move the team. But the city is worried that the team would be sold upon Richardson’s death, with a new owner seeking to move the team.
Deadspin editor-in-chief Tommy Craggs said no one from the Panthers has disputed the authenticity of the 26-page audit, which was posted on the website late Thursday afternoon.
The audit says the team made $112 million in “income from operations in 2011 and 2012.” The team had $14.7 million in “interest expense” those two years, reducing its net income to $97.3 million.
NFL team’s financial statements are not public documents, except for the Green Bay Packers, who are publicly owned. Last summer, the Packers announced they had their best season financially, with total revenue of $302 million, up nearly 7 percent from the previous year.
During that same year, the Panthers’ total revenue was $254 million. That includes the team’s share of the national television and radio contract, along with $47 million income from NFL Ventures, an umbrella group that accounts for other licensing and marketing deals.