A Charlotte group is preparing its pitch to purchase the Carolina Panthers, and could propose a new facility to replace Bank of America Stadium.
Last month, it was announced that Panthers owner Jerry Richardson would put the team on the market after a report by Sports Illustrated indicated that at least four former Panthers employees were given monetary settlements after coming forward with complaints about inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by Richardson. While the sale process will not begin until after the season concludes, a locally based group is preparing its effort to purchase the team.
According to Charlotte businessman Felix Sabates, the group currently features five people, two of which are minority owners of the Panthers. The group has hired consultants, and is visiting other stadiums. Sabates, who would not serve as the majority owner, believes that a new facility would offer more revenue opportunities than Bank of America Stadium. He also believes city and state participation will be needed in a stadium project. More from The Charlotte Observer:
His group won’t get involved if it doesn’t make financial sense, he said: “It’s that simple.”
Sabates, a longtime fixture on the local sports scene, has previously told the Observer that any sale will be complicated by unanswered questions about the future of the team’s 22-year-old stadium. Sabates said the team needs a new domed stadium that could host major events, and that state and city governments need to “pony” up to replace the current venue.
“The only way to make the numbers work is you have to create revenue between $40 million and $50 million a year,” he said. “And you can’t do that with the existing facility.”
A new building doesn’t have to have a retractable roof but does need a dome so it can host indoor events, he said. It also needs 20,000 parking spaces to generate revenue for the team. The Panthers have long noted that they don’t have the parking spaces to sell like other teams in the league.
While the Panthers and the City of Charlotte have contributed to recent renovations at Bank of America Stadium, questions have arisen about whether a new ownership group would pursue an indoor facility that could host major events like the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four. The Panthers have reached the NFL postseason, and are preparing to visit the New Orleans Saints this weekend.
Image of Bank of America Stadium courtesy Carolina Panthers.
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