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South Carolina Senate Approves $115M in Tax Breaks for Panthers Practice Facility

Carolina Panthers

The South Carolina Senate has approved $115 million in tax breaks for a proposed Carolina Panthers practice facility, putting the plan closer to fruition.

Under owner David Tepper–who completed his purchase of the franchise last summer–the Panthers have been plotting long-term facility plans, including a potential practice facility and headquarters in South Carolina. The plan is expected to lead to the Panthers acquiring up to 200 acres in Rock Hill–located just south of Charlotte–and constructing a training complex/team headquarters.

The economics of a proposal that includes $115 million in tax breaks for the project had been the subject of contentious debate among South Carolina senators, but the bill passed in a 27-15 vote on Thursday. Plans for the tax breaks are not yet final, as slight differences between the house and senate versions of the bill have to be reconciled, but the vote was seen as a major win for the Panthers and proponents of the project–including South Carolina governor Henry McMaster. More from the Charlotte Observer:

“This vote sends a resounding message to the world that South Carolina is committed to creating the most competitive business environment in the world so that South Carolinians can benefit from jobs created by great organizations like the @Panthers,” McMaster tweeted Thursday after the vote, adding the team’s official hashtag, #KeepPounding.

Its passage was delayed two months in the Senate by freshman state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, D-Richland, who blocked a vote on the bill in order to force the state Commerce Department to take the unprecedented step of releasing its secret cost-benefit analysis of the deal.

Harpootlian, who then hired an economist to call those projections into question, lifted his objection to the bill Tuesday but urged his colleagues not to vote for it.

“I’ve come to the troubling conclusion that the Panthers’ proposal is precisely as ill-defined and unvetted as has been represented to us and that it rests on a series of flawed assumptions,” he said during a lengthy Senate floor speech.

Should the plans move forward, the Panthers could begin construction later this year and open the facility in 2022. The complex/headquarters is expected to be built to a large scale, with the Panthers emulating a model employed by other NFL organizations–including the Dallas Cowboys–by building a sprawling facility and surrounding development in a suburban location near their home stadium. A training complex is not the only facility plan the Panthers could pursue in the coming years, as the organization could also make substantial renovations to Uptown Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.

Image of Bank of America Stadium courtesy Carolina Panthers.

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