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Tepper: Expect Upgrades to Carolina Panthers Facilities

Carolina Panthers

Now that he has closed on his purchase of the team, new owner David Tepper is discussing his visions for improved Carolina Panthers facilities. 

On Monday, Tepper–a billionaire hedge fund manager and the founder and president of Appaloosa Management–closed on his purchase of the Panthers from previous owner Jerry Richardson. Throughout the sales process, there were questions about how a new owner would handle the team’s facility situation. That includes addressing the status of Bank of America Stadium, as well as an adjacent practice facility.

In a press conference earlier this week, Tepper was clear in his desire to replace the current open-air practice facility with a new training complex on a different site. Such a move would not only upgrade the current facilities–which are considered out-of-date by NFL standards–but also free up valuable real estate near Bank of America Stadium for development. When it comes to the stadium, Tepper indicated that changes would have to be made, with a renovation needed to keep the team in its current location. His comments addressed the goals for any renovation, including for the stadium to receive more use on non-football game days and to tie into new development. More from The Charlotte Observer:

Tepper also made it clear that the logical place for the stadium is in its current location in Uptown Charlotte. However, he added that renovation is necessary.

Tepper also wants to make more use of the stadium. Concerts and events build revenue, but were never a possibility under former owner and founder Jerry Richardson. More events might keep the stadium open year-round for retail and food and drink availability, depending on the type of renovation or expansion Tepper has in mind.

And maybe there would be room for soccer, too.

“If we do development here, that’s new development that keeps people here not just on game day,” said Tepper, speaking hypothetically, “and we open up for other things, and I make an investment in MLS (Major League Soccer) and I bring that in here, I bring that many more dollars into the community. That’s business in the community and that’s more tax dollars generated.”

During the sale process, there had been speculation that a new owner would replace Bank of America Stadium. While the open-air facility has received renovations in renovation years, there have been questions about whether the team’s next owner would want a domed or retractable-roof stadium to draw events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four.

If Tepper does follow through on a Bank of America stadium renovation, it would likely focus on making the more facility more flexible for events other than Panthers games (even if those events are of a smaller profile than a Super Bowl or Final Four). The development concept, meanwhile, is one that other teams are exploring for the areas surrounding their existing stadiums. The Denver Broncos are doing so for the area surrounding Broncos Stadium at Mile High, and the Jacksonville Jaguars unveiled ambitious plans this spring for downtown Jacksonville development near TIAA Bank Field. But the sense of rivalry with Atlanta is strong in Charlotte, and the success of Mercedes-Benz Stadium has led to a few calls for a similar facility by some Panthers fans. But it doesn’t sound like Tapper is willing to spend a billion-plus dollars on a new stadium.

Image of Bank of America Stadium courtesy Carolina Panthers.

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