Charlotte leaders impressed with NJ stadium

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 25, 2012

CHARLOTTE (AP) — Charlotte leaders are impressed with the new stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., used by the New York Giants and the New York Jets.

Leaders from Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are in the New York area on a three-day visit as they consider whether and how to help renovate Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, home of the Carolina Panthers.

The leaders toured the $1.6 billion MetLife Stadium completed in 2010 and were impressed with its luxury and amenities. It features large video boards, escalators that take fans to the upper levels and private clubs.

Team president Danny Morrison said earlier this year that Richardson wants to install escalators to make it easier for fans to reach the upper level. He also said it’s important for the team to improve its video boards and ribbon boards, which are used for advertising.

The Panthers have not yet requested government help renovating their 16-year-old stadium that was built with mostly private funds. But city leaders expect the team to make a request for funding.

Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson made the trip to speak briefly to the meeting organized by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.

The city council voted last month to have city staff meet with the Panthers. Mayor Anthony Foxx has invited Richardson to discuss the stadium plans.

“I shouldn’t say I’m surprised, but I’m impressed,” said City Councilman John Autry. Autry supported a city subsidy for a new baseball stadium uptown and has said he didn’t know if he would support a similar proposal for the Panthers.

Councilman Michael Barnes said he was stunned at how nice the suites are.

“This gives me a sense of what’s possible,” said Barnes, who voted against the baseball stadium subsidy. “But it doesn’t change my view on using public money.”

The Panthers would need “a very compelling story” to get public money, he said.