Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
top story

$115 million in tax breaks for Carolina Panthers' SC complex wins key approval

Panthers Camp Football (copy)

Carolina Panthers' Julius Peppers battles Greg Olsen during practice at NFL football training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg in 2017. File/Chuck Burton/AP

COLUMBIA — The Carolina Panthers are closing on up to $115 million in tax breaks to open a headquarters and practice complex in York County. 

The S.C. House approved incentives Tuesday for bringing 150 jobs, including the NFL team's players, with an annual payroll of $190 million across the North Carolina border from Charlotte. The Senate is expected to pass the tax breaks. They could reach Gov. Henry McMaster's desk as early as next week.

The job tax breaks could be worth up to $115 million over 15 years, based on a report from state economists. More economic incentives are possible.

The House voted 90-25 to approve a change in state law that will give job incentives to professional sports teams.

Many who voted against the bill were opposed to giving economic incentives to a team that is already prepared to move to South Carolina or thought the money could be used for other priorities.

State Rep. David Hiott, R-Pickens, questioned why the state would give economic help to the NFL's richest owner, hedge fund manager David Tepper, who is worth a reported $11 billion. He paid a league record $2.2 billion for the Panthers last year.

"We're talking about giving him taxpayer dollars that people work hard for every day," Hiott said.

House Majority Leader Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, said the state was not offering a special handout to the team and had an obligation to offer the Panthers the same incentives as any other company moving operations into South Carolina. 

The Panthers' $150 million complex will have a large impact in the state, Simrill said. The project is expected to go into a location large enough to develop nearby hotels, stores and residences.  

"South Carolina wins when the Panthers come to South Carolina," he said.

The Panthers have not picked a site or formally announced the project. There are no plans to have the team play games in South Carolina.

Still, state lawmakers are moving quickly to approve the first set of incentives less than two weeks after McMaster formally revealed the Panthers' interest in coming to South Carolina. The Post and Courier broke the news about the complex in December. 

Tepper, who met with the governor and top S.C. legislative leaders this month, has said he wants state-of-the-art practice facilities to replace those next to the Bank of America Stadium.

McMaster has said he would like to extend Charlotte's commuter rail line into South Carolina to ferry fans to the Panther complex. The S.C. Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to creating a new committee to study connecting with the Charlotte mass transit system. 

The Panthers were formed in the mid-1990s as a team for both Carolinas and moving the team's headquarters and practice facilities about 15 miles south of its Charlotte stadium would be considered part of that branding.

The team had its first temporary offices and practice facilities at Winthrop University in Rock Hill and played its inaugural season in 1995 at Clemson University’s Memorial Stadium.

For two decades, the Panthers have held summer training camp in Spartanburg at Wofford College, the alma mater of former team owner Jerry Richardson. The team’s contract with Wofford ends this year.

Follow Shain on Facebook and Twitter

Similar Stories