Contractor owed money for scrapped Panthers practice facility fights bankruptcy facade

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When news first surfaced that Panthers owner David Tepper had taken the shell company he formed to build his team’s new practice facility to bankruptcy, we expressed concern that he was playing a financial shell game with companies that provided services to the construction effort. The company owed the most money for a project that was aborted through no fault of its own has expressed concern, too.

Via TheAthletic.com, Mascaro/Barton Malow contends it is owed $80 million. It claims that Tepper and the Panthers provided the real money and influence to the project that technically was managed by GT Real Estate.

“Virtually every aspect of this case is tainted by the control of Tepper and the Carolina Panthers,” the contractor said in a court filing, later referring to the “murky and suspicious structure that is the Debtor/Tepper/Carolina Panthers enterprise.”

The basic argument is that GT Real Estate is Tepper and the Panthers. And it is. Everything else is paperwork and wand-waving.

Tepper and the Panthers wanted a 240-acre campus with team headquarters, practice facility, retail shops, restaurants, hotel, etc. To make it happen, a separate (but related) company was used. When the project went to hell in a partially-completed handbasket, Tepper took the company to bankruptcy with the goal, frankly, of shorting the people owed money for their work on the scrapped project.

A Wednesday hearing on a fairy esoteric question (GT Real Estate wants to loan $20 million to DT Sports, presumably another separate company that as a practical matter isn’t) featured extensive questioning of a witness regarding the ties between Tepper, the Panthers, and GT Real Estate.

The league’s position on the matter apparently falls somewhere between “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” and “what, me worry?” As to the alleged ties between GT Real Estate and the Panthers, a league spokesman said, “Don’t know anything about the creditor’s claim or if it’s accurate.”

If you don’t know, shouldn’t you try to find out?

Again, Tepper has every right to take advantage of a complex system of American laws to take advantage of the ability to protect his $16.7 billion net worth from failed business endeavors. But that doesn’t make it right. And at a time when the NFL is concerned about the impact of Deshaun Watson‘s behavior on the broader image of the league, shouldn’t the league also be at least a little worried about the perception that the oligarchs who own NFL teams can push enough buttons and pull enough levers to activate expensive activities for their own benefit while reserving the right to not pay the full charges if something goes haywire?

23 responses to “Contractor owed money for scrapped Panthers practice facility fights bankruptcy facade

  1. There are two Americas. The one 95% of us live in, which contains rules and accountability, and the one that the richest 5% live in, which contains neither.

    The 5% America is doing great. Business is billing and profits have never been higher.

    The 95% America has to deal with inflation and members of the 5% picking their pockets.

  2. The whole purpose of a Corporate entity is to limit liability. The entity that is underwater by $80MM here is certainly sophisticated enough to understand what they were getting into. Indeed, I would imagine they use subsidiary corporations to limit their own liability in the event things went wrong the other way.

  3. America has mostly decided that rich people screwing over the little guy is the way it is and there’s nothing wrong with that. One day it will be their privilege. Why would the NFL think otherwise?

  4. This contractor took a risk and got burned. Yet MANY homeowners take risks with contractors and get burned as well. I’m sure that this contractor has burned LOTS of people, but since the client has deep pockets, and the media hates the client, the contractor is seizing the opportunity.

  5. Everybody wants the Dallas practice facility… can’t blame them. It’s awesome

  6. This guy is really starting to sound like the next bad NFL owner, Daniel Snyder move aside.

  7. This is the kind of BS the wealthy get away with all the time in this world. Average Joe can’t get away with the dip, dodge, dive, duck, and dodge like the rich are able. Sadly, that’s simply what some aspire to do…get rich by ripping off others. Then, of course, get into politics to further manipulate the system in their favor while fooling the masses into supporting them.

  8. The sad thing is I foresee a bunch of people will support the actions of the Teppers and it’s a sad reality of the system where there is no shortage of people willing to look the other way or cheer on what is really theft just as long as they are not the ones who are being stolen from. Yes, there’s a good chance the company who is owed the $80M can absorb the loss and they had their own safe guards in place BUT the reality is in the long run there are a bunch of smaller companies and individuals who will get the shaft in what is celebrated as a good business move.

  9. Tepper is a jerk. I hope his creditors are able to legally bind him & the Panthers to their contracts; no construction/development company should enter into a contract w/ him going forward without ironclad legal protection from this type of fraud.

  10. This Tepper guy is way worse than Dan Snyder. Yet Snyder is always taking some sort of heat.

  11. The Smartest Guy In The Room strikes again. With Tepper, it’s all about how clever he can prove he is to everyone. Success – it’s all about him. Failure – it’s someone else’s fault (or, someone else gets stuck with the bill)

  12. WHY is this David Tepper’s fault?

    It was the city of Rock Hill that refused to live up to it’s obligation to raise bonds to fund the PUBLIC infrastructure (parks, restaurants, etc) around the practice facility. Remember, the team was already paying 100% of the team facilities so it’s not like they were using free taxpayers’ money here.

    It’s RIDICULOUS to blame Tepper and expect him to cover the debt created by the city of Rock Hill just because he has money.

  13. Hypocrites! What is it that EVERY non-wealthy person desires most? WEALTH! Once you have your wealth, what is your top priority? Keeping and growing that wealth of course! Learn how to take advantage of laws and regulations and you too can be wealthy.

  14. I love it Mike. Keep showing us how these owners do questionably moral and unethical things in their business life and the NFL does nothing. Was Haslam EVER punished by Goodell for the fraud he ran through Pilot Flying J?

  15. If this company was thinly capitalized they might be able to pierce the corporate veil and reach into a deeper pocket. Hopefully they can.

  16. From what I understand, GTE spent $175M to date on the project. The proposed loan is to fund payment of creditor claims. I’m guessing this was a contractor with an $80M contract who has performed much less than $80M worth of work, but who wants the full benefit of the contract. Also keep in mind the only reason anyone is dealing with this is because Rock Hill failed to perform its obligations under the parties’ agreement. Don’t see anyone dragging those politicians through the mud for making promises they couldn’t keep (and how it affects those creditors).

  17. Apparently the Carolina Paper Tigers now want in on being scum like the Cleveland Brown Piles, the Lost Vegas Raidas, and the Washington Commodes! The rest of the league thanks them!

  18. So many people on this site willing to bend over backwards for billionaires. It makes zero sense. Beyond the $$$ they can extract from you, they don’t care about you or this country.

    You’ll see how quickly they bail on the U.S. for greener pastures once the card castle collapses.

  19. Another righteous take on a player, playing a game, playing it well, in a game he didn’t create.
    People often want to and do hate the player instead of the game . David Tepper is a genius, self made Billionaire. Arguably the best Hedge Fund manager of his time. A failed project from a totally separate company owned by David Tepper has nothing to do with the Carolina Panthers. It’s the beauty of an LLC (Limited Liability Company). When you set off on a business project that has many players and moving parts and the success of the project
    relies on aspects that are not in your control each contractor is taking a risk and they know it. This situation and result is extremely normal.

  20. Perhaps Dvid Tepper will encounter a bankruptcy judge with the same kind of spine displayed be Christopher McGraugh, the state Circuit Judge who presided over the lawsuit involving Stan Kroenke, the NFL and various people and entities in St. Louis, MO.

  21. Almost every NFL owner is shady. Just another example. Tepper is an absolute disgrace as a person, just what the other NFL owners love and admire about each other.

    Haslam did the same thing on a smaller scale to sign owner in Cleveland, never paid him for installing signage on the Browns Stadium, which is a flat out joke of an NFL Stadium. Sound system is garbage, no access to internet in the Stadium.

    This is how NFL owners love to operate, yet, there are no consequences for their actions

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