• 54°

Vote delayed on S. Carolina bid for Panthers’ headquarters

By Jeffrey Collings

Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina senators decided not to hold a key vote Tuesday on whether to give the Carolina Panthers tax breaks and incentives to move their practice fields out of North Carolina, as it became increasingly unclear if the bill could pass.

The key component of the proposal would offer about $115 million in state income tax breaks to the NFL team that it would have to use to build a new headquarters and indoor practice facility in South Carolina.

But Democratic state Sen. Dick Harpootlian and a few other more conservative senators have continuously questioned whether Panthers billionaire owner David Tepper needs any public help.

Harpootlian paid for his own economic analysis of the deal that found the benefit to the state could be around $1 billion — less than a third of the estimate provided by the state Commerce Department. That prompted more senators to question the deal.

“We are supposed to protect the taxpayers from getting ripped off. We are the only people standing between them and this billionaire taking advantage of them,” the Democrat from Columbia said Tuesday.

The Panthers currently practice and play in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, just inside the state line. South Carolina is trying to bring them about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south.

Tepper bought the team last summer and a new indoor practice facility is a priority. Heavy rains late last season forced the Panthers to move practices to a hotel ballroom.

Tepper and other Panthers officials have said nothing publicly about the South Carolina offer, even after a private meeting with Gov. Henry McMaster and legislative leaders.

McMaster and the South Carolina House have pushed the bill hard, and the proposal passed the House 90-25 less than two weeks after it was announced.

Senators who support the bill said South Carolina has given these incentives and more to other companies without opposition and people are only upset because the Carolina Panthers are a well-known, newsmaking NFL team.

“What we are actually doing is fairly mundane,” said Republican Sen. Wes Climer, whose district likely includes the South Carolina site.

Harpootlian’s economic analysis also said the state’s estimates on how much money the Panthers’ move would bring in depended on every Panthers player and coach moving to South Carolina and spending their entire paychecks here.

Supporters acknowledged that made no sense, but said they will still pay taxes here no matter where they live and those taxes will be substantial once the incentives end in 15 years.

“Granted it is only 150 jobs, but the jobs pay a million dollars apiece,” said Republican Sen. Greg Gregory of Lancaster.

Even if the bill passes the Senate on Wednesday, there could be another hurdle based on an unrelated, ongoing feud with the governor. Senators tacked an amendment to the Panthers proposal changing the way McMaster handles appointments that require their approval.

The House has ignored the proposal about appointments so far this session, but will likely have to accept it to get the Panthers bill passed. If the bill gets to his desk, Gov. McMaster will face a similar dilemma deciding whether to sign it.

Comments

Local

Local state trooper, firefighter returns home after Army deployment

Local

Blast from the past: Concordia Lutheran Church opens time capsule from previous century

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged with damaging video camera, tresspassing

Crime

North Carolina man faces over 300 sex-related charges

News

Coastal flooding along Outer Banks closes roads

Nation/World

GOP hopeful Supreme Court battle will help shift election

Education

‘Better chance of succeeding’: Moody, colleagues reflect on tenure, retirement

News

Collecting garbage: Locals work to beautify High Rock Lake during Clean Sweep

Coronavirus

Salisbury man grateful parents’ story has impacted many

News

Celtics take big lead and hold on to top Heat 117-106

Business

Downtown Salisbury ‘moving swiftly’ with developers interested in Empire Hotel

Business

From fantasy to fact, Cherry builds a Hobbit House at his Treesort

Business

Biz Roundup: CSP seeking to hire 100 new employees for plant expansion

Coronavirus

Police, sheriff focus on education in addressing mask-wearing complaints

Education

Candidates for East Area school board seat have widely different views on renewal

Kannapolis

Cannon Mills’ whistle sounds again, brings nostalgia with it

Coronavirus

UPDATED: Outbreak at jail annex over; new cases emerge at Kannapolis facility

Elections

In Senate race, Tillis calibrates ties to Trump

News

5 Charlotte officers recommended for dismissal after death in custody

Elections

Trump, Biden hit unlikely battleground state of Minnesota

College

Maui Invitational moving to Asheville during pandemic

News

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

Crime

Blotter: Sept. 19

Coronavirus

Kannapolis brewery linked to eight COVID-19 positives