COLUMBIA — The Carolina Panthers are taking another step to bringing a big part of its operations to South Carolina.
Team owner David Tepper is scheduled to visit with Gov. Henry McMaster and state legislative leaders next week about moving the team's headquarters and practice facilities to York County, The Post and Courier has learned.
The Panthers could join a growing number of Charlotte-area companies that have hopped over the North Carolina line in recent years to take advantage of South Carolina’s lower taxes and economic incentives.
The team started eyeing the Palmetto State last year to build a complex similar to a $1.5 billion development opened by the Dallas Cowboys that includes outdoor and indoor fields, team headquarters and a museum, called The Star.
Tepper has not hidden his desire to build new practice facilities after buying the Panthers from Jerry Richardson last year for a league-record $2.2 billion. The team practices near Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, but the facilities lack the state-of-the-art amenities of its NFL rivals.
One location under serious consideration is the site of the former Knights Stadium and Charlotte Hornets practice facility off Interstate 77 in Fort Mill, 15 miles south of the Panthers' stadium. The complex would have space to allow for development of neighboring hotels, restaurants, stores and residences.
The Panthers were founded in the 1990s as a team for both Carolinas. While playing in North Carolina, the team has ties to South Carolina.
Its first temporary offices and practice facilities were housed at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, and the team played its inaugural season at Clemson University’s Memorial Stadium.
The Panthers have held summer training camp for two decades in Spartanburg at Wofford College, Richardson's alma mater. The team's contract with Wofford ends this year, suggesting the Panthers will seek another site in time for the 2020 camp.
Tepper and other team officials will meet with McMaster and Statehouse leaders at the Governor's Mansion on March 13, according to three sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
The Panthers did not respond Wednesday to questions about the proposed complex or next week's meeting.
McMaster's office declined comment.
Tepper, a hedge fund manager who was a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was an honorary co-chairman of McMaster’s 2019 inaugural committee but did not contribute money to the event.
Moving team operations could bring more than 300 Panther employees to York County, along with hundreds more expected from nearby development.