COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Governor Henry McMaster announced Wednesday that a meeting with leadership from the state’s general assembly and the Carolina Panthers are looking to moving their football operations to South Carolina.
Following a meeting at the governor’s mansion on Wednesday with Panthers owner David Tepper, the governor announced that the team is interested in moving their football operations, including more than 150 employees, practice facilities to either York or Lancaster counties.
“York County will win the economic development Super Bowl,” said Sen. Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee).
The move would include the relocation of facilities, employees both front office and back office employees, players, in addition to having hotel and retail opportunities to make the facilities usable year-round.
“We want to attract this great team to South Carolina,” McMaster said. 'We’re moving as fast as we can."
To do all this South Carolina lawmakers will have to do a little work. The House and Senate introduced legislation Wednesday that would expand tax credits and job incentives to pro sports franchises.
“The Panthers as they look to come to South Carolina," Rep. Gary Simrill (R-York) said, "they are givers. Not takers.”
Speaker of the House Jay Lucas said that the business of football is big business, and moving their football operations and their payroll is huge for a sports environment that their motto has been “one team, two states.”
The process is in the early stages of negotiations and discussions on the matter and legislation needs to be put in place, such as tax credits, but McMaster said “South Carolina leadership has been working hard on making the decisions,” but they will also be waiting on what Tepper decides.
The reason for legislation? Per the Associated Press, football players “don’t practice enough hours to be considered full-time employees in the state, so South Carolina can’t offer the Panthers tax breaks and other incentives.”
The governor and general assembly leaders said during the press conference that they plan to push for rules that exempt football players from that.
McMaster said that Tepper wants to get started “right away.”
Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys confirmed he was indirectly approached by members of the Panthers organization and has spoke with them about the move. He does not know if Rock Hill will be chosen but is hopeful it’s a top contender being dubbed “Football City USA." He says there are likely two to three locations within the city that could work for the Panthers, but did not disclose what locations they might be looking at.
Representative Tommy Pope was in the meetings with Tepper Wednesday morning. He told me on the phone that they don’t have any indication on where the facility could be built in York or Lancaster counties, that decision will be made by Tepper.
The re-location to either South Carolina county would not be too far from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte - either would be about 20 miles across the state line.
The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce said bringing a professional sports franchise to the state would continue to show the state’s economic growth.
“South Carolina has got a bunch of brand names companies: Boeing, BMW, Volvo, Mercedes," President and CEO, Ted Pitts, said. "The Carolina Panthers would be another marquee brand to call South Carolina home.”
You can see the full press conference here.
Check back for more updates.
Reporters from WBTV News in Charlotte contributed to this report.