Charlotte’s plan for Panthers stadium could eventually fund a new one

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On the surface, it looks like a good deal for the City of Charlotte.  In exchange for $144 million in public money (which in the grand scheme of stadium arm-twisting deals is on the low end of the spectrum), the Panthers have committed to 15 more years in its current location.

But the tax increase that will be used to fund the renovations at Bank of America Stadium will generate far more than $144 million.  As explained by Steve Harrison of the Charlotte Observer, the bump in the local prepared food and beverage tax from one percent to two percent could, over a 30-year period, generate roughly $1 billion dollars.

The excess could ultimately fund a new stadium in 2028.

UNC Charlotte economist Craig Depken warns that this approach could harm the city’s leverage in the future, with the money in the fund more likely to be automatically dedicated to a new stadium.

“You walk into the dealer and say you have $50,000 for a new BMW, but you only want to pay $35,000,” Depken told Harrison.  “You are going to pay $50,000. It doesn’t help your negotiating.”

The tax increase hasn’t been approved by the North Carolina General Assembly.  There’s a chance it will be tailored to generate far less money — and possibly to yield in the end only enough to finance the renovations.

Plus, there’s always a chance that enterprising politicians will come up with other ideas for the 10-figure piggy bank that the tax increase would create; even if the full $1 billion is generated, there’s a good chance none of it will be left when the time comes to figure out where the Panthers will play.