Why the Carolina Panthers are stopping construction of their new headquarters in Rock Hill, SC | WFAE 90.7

The Carolina Panthers suspended construction of their headquarters in Rock Hill, South Carolina, saying the city failed to meet its financial obligations. City officials say they have yet to issue bonds to meet their financial obligation.

Charlotte Business Journal’s Erik Spanberg joined WFAE’s Gwendolyn Glenn to help sort out the details.

Gwendolyn Glenn: Eric, give us a quick idea of ​​the scope of this headquarters plan for Rock Hill.

Erik Spanberg: So it’s a very big project. It’s a 240-acre site that the Panthers and David Tepper bought. And of those 240 acres, 50 acres would be for Panther fields and headquarters. And the idea was to use the rest to bring in hotels and restaurants and build walking paths and make it a mixed-use development, as it’s called in the real estate world.

Glen: OK, yes, it’s really big. Today, Tepper Sports and Entertainment is the parent company of the Panthers. What exactly are the reasons why officials suspended construction? And what will it take to restart it?

Erik Spanberg: Well they’re saying what you said at the start of this segment, which is that the city didn’t issue the bonds, didn’t deliver on their promises to help pay for the streets and other infrastructure around this project . And in essence, they’re saying it’s been going on long enough and they’re going to stop – “pause” is the word they used – they’re going to stop building until this is resolved.

And on the other hand, Gwendolyn, the city first said, “Well, we didn’t miss any payments. We did what we were supposed to do.” And then later saying, “Well, yeah, we didn’t issue those bonds.” So, there is still a small question as to exactly what is driving the lack of investment or the fulfillment of the commitment that was made with the Panthers originally.

Glen: Well, explain how bonds affect this whole project.

Spanberg: So the idea was that Rock Hill would contribute about $225 million to improve roads, sewers, water – all the things that have to happen for you to build a big project on unoccupied land. ; it has not been used commercially. And those things haven’t happened yet. The bonds would have paid for these projects, and so the Panthers continued to build. They are 20 months into a 36 month construction schedule.

They say they have spent around $170 million so far to build their headquarters. Basically, they pull the plug and say, “We have to fix this one way or another.” And a lot of people watching this – near and far – say, “Well, we could have a little bluff or a little chicken game. We’ll see how it goes.” But so far, that’s where we are.

Glen: Well, did Rock Hill officials say why they didn’t issue the bonds? And have they said when they will?

Spanberg: They haven’t, to my knowledge. We tried to find that answer. I know many other journalists have tried to find this answer. At this time and at this time, we don’t have a good explanation or really any explanation as to why this didn’t happen. In December 2021, the mayor of Rock Hill, in essence, declared it a completed project — you know, “We’re ready, we’re committed.”

And that night, the local government of Rock Hill said they would have the bonds issued probably by the end of February 2022. And it seems like what really triggered that decision this week was that it didn’t did not happen in February. And then the Panthers said they wouldn’t wait any longer.

Glen: Well, what percentage of the construction of this project is complete?

Spanberg: We’re 20 months out of a 36-month construction schedule, which means you’re halfway there. They had toured. I think it was last year, we all went on a media tour. At that time, there were around 340 workers a day at the site, and that day the Panthers told us there would be up to 800 workers at the site as they neared the end of this project. So already you had a significant presence there. You’ve had all kinds of projects under construction.

And by the way, if someone is passing on Interstate 77, you can see it. You can see the structure coming out of the ground. It’s a colossal project they are considering. The team headquarters alone measures 600,000 square feet. They are going to have five outdoor training grounds. They’re going to have a 5,000-seat outdoor stadium. And it starts again several times. I could really put you to sleep with all the details, but it’s complete — let’s put it that way.

Glen: Yeah, and you’re right, when you drive down I-77, you can see this gigantic project. Is there a chance they’ll go away?

Spanberg: Everyone seems to think that’s highly unlikely. They look at it and say, “There’s too much at stake for everyone here. For Rock Hill, York County and the State of South Carolina, they all said this was going to be a catalyst for further economic development. They also appreciate that it fits in with all the youth and amateur sports facilities that the local government has built to develop a sports tourism model.

And for the Panthers, after investing $170 million in a project and having all these plans, it looks like it would be very difficult to walk away. I will mention one thing, Gwendolyn. Don’t forget that David Tepper is the richest owner in the NFL. He is worth $16 billion. So if anyone could look at $170 million and say, “I could walk away,” it would be him. But people who make that kind of money usually don’t like to see it wasted.

Glen: OK, well, Erik, thanks for letting us know.

About John Crowder

Check Also

The Rock surprises WWE Raw Superstar with a new home (video)

The Rock’s generosity knows no bounds. A week after surprising his mother with a new …