The richest owner in the NFL is declaring bankruptcy.
Via TheAthletic.com, Panthers owner David Tepper has taken his real estate development company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy following the imploded efforts to build a new practice facility and headquarters in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
According to the filing, the company has liabilities in the range of $100 million to $500 million and up to 49 creditors. The company’s assets are in the same range. The goal will be to reorganize the company financially, in an orderly fashion that allows it to emerge with a cleaner slate — and a more manageable balance sheet.
The process will allow Tepper’s real estate company to pay contractors who worked on the abandoned site, with the obvious reality being that there’s a good chance some or all will be paid less than they are owed.
Yes, it seems odd that a multi-billionaire would be able to shirk or minimize financial responsibilities by taking advantage of the bankruptcy laws. But rich people don’t get or stay that way by being stupid. In creating a company that was and is separate from his personal fortune and putting that company in charge of the aborted construction project for his football team’s stadium, Tepper can shield himself from having to dip into his own piggy bank to pay 100 cents on the dollar to those who provided services to a project that Tepper dumped once public financing didn’t come through.
The NFL, as explained in the article from TheAthletic.com, has no issue with the situation because the company declaring bankruptcy is separate from club ownership. However, these debts were incurred directly from an effort to build a new practice facility and headquarters for an NFL team. The idea that an NFL owner can play a financial shell game in order to force those who are owed a certain amount of money from devoting professional efforts to building an NFL facility to basically take whatever they can get from a bankruptcy estate feels wrong, no matter how technically right or legal it may be.