The Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium is a little over halfway through it’s planned 30-year lifespan. They’d like to freshen the place up a bit.
And after privately financing it the first time through, it’s reasonable to assume they might like a little help on the renovations this time.
Couple that with the fact that a group of 100 local Charlotte politicians and business leaders just spent a few days in New York, toured MetLife Stadium, met NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and learned about the fancy bells and whistles a new stadium has. And oh by the way, wink wink, elbow nudge, there’s a big city on the other coast that doesn’t have a team (or two).
Dots are being laid out for the people in control of the city’s finances to connect for themselves.
“That reality scares the hell out of me. It’s sobering,” Charlotte Chamber of Commerce President Bob Morgan told Erik Spanberg of the Charlotte Business Journal, of the possibility of the Panthers leaving town.
Richardson, the former chairman of the league’s stadium committee (he recently stepped aside), has invested as much time in the NFL’s Los Angeles process as anyone. He hosted the richest man in L.A. at a game in Charlotte earlier this year. The CBJ report made a vague reference to the mayor of L.A. “directly or indirectly made overtures to the Panthers and Richardson during the Democratic National Convention in September,” whatever that sentence means.
Richardson is also smart enough and insulated enough to be not spotted (or rumored to be directly or indirectly spotted) with anyone he doesn’t want to be spotted with.
As much as Richardson takes pride in bringing an NFL franchise to his native Carolinas, he’s also a shrewd businessman. He didn’t take public money for the stadium the first time through, and he’d probably prefer to not have to be so crass as to come right out and ask for it this time.
So if a junket and a few scare tactics get the city fathers to offer $100 million or so for a new coat of paint, some shingles (and maybe an escalator and new scoreboard or two), that would probably be just fine with Richardson.