Billionaire Panthers owner David Tepper wants a new retractable-dome stadium — but not without taxpayer help

Shalise Manza YoungYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

Since buying the Carolina Panthers a year ago, David Tepper has reinvigorated the franchise. He lets the outside world see the inner workings of the team with the Panthers’ appearance on Amazon’s “All or Nothing,” and he spent time before home games last season greeting ticket holders.

Tepper wants to expand the sports and entertainment offerings in Charlotte – but he wants area taxpayers to help.

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Retractable-dome stadium in the next decade?

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper wants to have a retractable-dome stadium within the next decade. (AP)
Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper wants to have a retractable-dome stadium within the next decade. (AP)

In a feature written by Sports Business Journal’s Ben Fischer, Tepper reveals that he’d like a new, retractable-dome stadium in uptown Charlotte at some point in the next decade.

Tepper sees the facility as not just hosting the Panthers but also the MLS team he’s pushing for, Final Fours, Super Bowls, and frequent concerts.

He won’t do it without taxpayer help. That doesn’t mean he won’t kick in money, but Tepper believes that a building that’s used year-round and the resulting economic impact it would have on the city and region make it an easier sell.

“At some point I would make a big investment if I could get the state and others on board in a new stadium that would be great for soccer and great for football,” Tepper said.

“The economy’s big enough for a revenue tax, a hotel revenue increase that would go a long way to help pay for a new stadium.”

Tepper paid a record $2.275 billion to buy the Panthers, and is worth an estimated $11.4 billion, making him the wealthiest NFL owner.

Meeting a demand

According to Tepper, there’s a significant unmet demand for sports and other entertainment in Charlotte, and he notes that there isn’t a major league summer sports team, which he wants to provide in the form of the MLS team.

Tepper and his top executive, Tom Glick, are in Orlando, Fla. this week to make their bid to MLS, a 24-team league that will grow to 27 franchises by 2021.

Charlotte has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 15 or so years. In 2005, the city’s population was 641,000; it’s currently around 875,000. The greater metropolitan area has well over 2 million residents.

“People here in Charlotte have to realize: This is a really major, growing, important city, and it needs that sort of presence,” Tepper said. “Charlotte, in my mind, for these two states, should be the sports and entertainment capital. That’s what it’s meant to be.”

To address that need (and also add to his fortune), he is launching Tepper Sports & Entertainment, a holding company that will include all of his sports entertainment and development ventures. Tepper and Glick will run it.

“This state, this region has to realize how great it can be,” Tepper said.

Already got South Carolina on board with tax breaks

Tepper has already gotten South Carolina to agree to tax breaks for him and his team.

In the spring, Tepper told officials in South Carolina that he’d like to move the team’s headquarters to Rock Hill, about 20 miles south of Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte - but he wouldn’t do so without about $120 million in tax breaks.

Though there was opposition from some in the state legislature, it ended up happening, and Tepper got more than he asked for: roughly $115 million in tax discounts for the team and $40 million in road construction divided between federal, state, and local funds to build a new interchange off the highway.

The Panthers want to develop a 200-acre parcel; it would be not just the team’s new home for day-to-day operations, but plans include an orthopedic sports medicine facility and hotel with conference spaces.

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