City council votes to support Panthers $125 million stadium upgr - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

City council votes to support Panthers $125 million stadium upgrade

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Some Queen City taxpayers are wondering why city leaders held a closed door meeting Monday night, and voted to study a plan that would renovate Bank of America Stadium with taxpayer money.

City council members voted 7-2 in a closed session late Monday night to study a plan that fund the Carolina Panthers' request for $125 million in upgrades to the stadium.

Sources tell WBTV that plan is not final as city council is expected to hold a final public vote after more information is gathered. City council members would not speak publicly about the backroom negotiations.

"We have economic development situations that we discuss all the time and at some point once our discussions reach a conclusion, the contents of those conversations will become public," said Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx.

The plan, if passed, would require approval from the N.C. General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory.

Sources tell WBTV Councilmen Warren Cooksey, a Republican, and Michael Barnes, a Democrat, voted against the plan.

Everyone else voted in favor except for Mayor Anthony Foxx, who did not vote, according to the source.

The city wants to raise to food and beverage tax from one to two percent to help pay for the upgrades for the 16 year old stadium.

Rumors have been swirling around the NFL in recent months that the Panthers may be one of several teams under consideration to be relocated to Los Angeles, which is building a new stadium in hopes of luring a pro team.

Team owner Jerry Richardson, now in his 70s, has not publicly named a plan of succession for who will run the team once he has stepped down. However, a Charlotte Business Journal article posted Tuesday night says the team will be sold after Richardson's death.

"A source who's very close to the team told me this week that the plan is, Jerry Richardson wants the team sold within two years of his death," said CBJ writer Erik Spanberg.

That could be added motivation for city council members to strike a deal with Richardson.

"The idea would be that if the city invested, they would also gain a commitment from the Panthers in the form of a lease or some other agreement that would have steep financial penalties to make sure that the team stays here. Right now the team owns their stadium, so they could leave whenever they want," said Spanberg.

When asked why Monday's meeting was not open to the public, Charlotte City Attorney Bob Hagemann sent us this portion of the city's open records law:

"To discuss matters relating to the location or expansion of industries or other businesses in the area served by the public body, including agreement on a tentative list of economic development incentives that may be offered by the public body in negotiations"

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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