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South Carolina Makes a Play for Panthers Practice Facility

Bank of America Stadium

Officials in South Carolina are making overtures for a future Carolina Panthers practice facility, viewing the project as an economic development opportunity.

It has been known for some time that Panthers owner David Tepper is planning long-term decisions about the team’s facilities, starting with the construction of a new training complex/headquarters. The complex—which would effectively give the Panthers a replacement for their training fields in Uptown Charlotte—has been expected to be constructed in either North Carolina or South Carolina, and now South Carolina officials are discussing their aggressive play to land the project.

Details of that pitch, which could include legislation that makes the Panthers eligible for certain economic development incentives, were discussed Wednesday by South Carolina governor Henry McMaster. No deal is finalized at this point, but McMaster said that conversations with Tepper have been unfolding for months. More from The Herald:

McMaster said the potential Panthers’ move would include an estimated investment of at least $150 million within four years.

“This is a very exciting moment for South Carolina,” McMaster said Wednesday, adding that talks between Tepper and South Carolina leaders have been going on for months. “Of course, we’ve got a long way to go.”

State lawmakers already are hoping to push new legislation filed Wednesday through the House and Senate budget-writing committees as quickly as possible. The legislation would make the team eligible for specific incentives — for example, tax breaks and infrastructure improvements — that have been used by state leaders to lure other economic powerhouses such as Boeing in North Charleston and Volvo in Berkeley County. The state’s transportation chief, Christy Hall, also sat in on Wednesday’s meeting, McMaster said.

It remained unclear whether the Legislature would try to spend state dollars in the budget that takes effect July 1 on the venture.

The State did report earlier this week that the Panthers have engaged in discussions with officials about constructing the facility in Rock Hill. However, whether that or another location in South Carolina lands the project remains to be seen, as the Panthers and state officials still appear to have some work to before moving any project forward.

Once it comes to fruition, the training complex project will hold a few points of significance for the Panthers. The team’s current fields in Uptown Charlotte are regarded as out of date, so replacing them with a modern complex could put the Panthers in line with other NFL organizations that have completed similar projects in recent years. Additionally, the land where the current practice fields sit could present some solid redevelopment opportunities, particularly if the Panthers decide to address their long-term stadium situation by either renovating or replacing Bank of America Stadium.

A future facility arrangement that includes a stadium in Uptown Charlotte and a practice facility in the South Carolina suburbs could be an intriguing possibility for the Panthers, as it would effectively allow the organization to have strong presence in both North Carolina and South Carolina. However, there is still some work to be done in completing the complex project, which is a major part of any long-term facility plan.

Image of Bank of America Stadium courtesy Carolina Panthers.

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