The Carolina Panthers 200-acre development in Rock Hill will cause a “sports entertainment migration” to York County, Panther’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Hart said at an economic summit in Columbia on Thursday.
New team owner David Tepper wants to turn the Panthers into an entertainment company, rather than the traditional NFL model of just selling “beer, tickets and football for 10 or 12 events a year.”
“We want to be in business 365 days a year,” Hart said at the annual gathering of the I-77 Alliance at USC’s Pastides Alumni Center. “Festivals, concerts, entertainment . . . the sports entertainment migration from the football business.”
And that migration will include Rock Hill, Hart said.
“We want it to be more than a practice facility,” he told the gathering of economic development officials from York, Chester, Fairfield and Richland counties. “Entertainment, sports, community, high school, soccer, different sports. Pick your poison.”
It will initially include an orthopedic sports medicine facility built by Atrium Heath that would employ about 200 people, and the team is beginning its due diligence to land a hotel of at least 150 rooms that would include conference space, Hart said.
The team would then pursue other development drawn to the allure of the Panthers franchise, Hart said, such as corporate headquarters, offices, residential projects and hospitality.
The development would be similar to the Dallas Cowboys’ The Star in Frisco, Texas, and the Minnesota Vikings planned Viking Lakes in Eagan, Minn. The Star includes a hotel, shopping, restaurants and other amenities in addition to football facilities.
The Panthers landed $115 million in incentives from the state of South Carolina to move the NFL team’s headquarters from Charlotte to a $200-million to $250-million facility in York County. The facility would include an indoor practice facility of up to 10,000 seats, a half dozen or so outdoor practice fields, as well as training facilities and offices.
The Panthers hope the new digs will help the team meet or surpass new facilities being built by other NFL franchises. And like new football facilities at Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, the York County complex could help the team attract the best players, coaches and staff.
The Panthers facility could be used to play more than one high school football game at a time, and the indoor facility would be capable of hosting championship games, concerts and corporate events.
The playing fields, training fields and medical facilities would bolster Rock Hill as a football hot spot and live up to its self-appointed moniker of Football City USA, the team has said. The town’s three public high schools have won multiple state championships in the 15 years, and former first-round NFL picks Jadeveon Clowney of the Texans, Stephon Gilmore of the Patriots, and Cordarrelle Patterson of the Bears are from the city.
The site is located on Interstate 77 between Dave Lyle Boulevard and Cherry Road. The state will build a new interchange at I-77 to access The Site..