Aug 26, 2021 - Development

In Rock Hill, Panthers progress on massive $800M team headquarters

Carolina Panthers Rock Hill campus

Carolina Panthers Rock Hill campus

Just over the state line, the Panthers are not-so-quietly progressing on their transformation of 240 acres of formerly family-owned, undeveloped wooded land into an $800 million campus anchored by a team headquarters.

By not-so-quietly, I mean crews are literally hammering through tons of rock and earth under the scorching South Carolina sun. Construction cranes recently began placing dozens of massive steel beams into place every day. Mounds of lumber, pipes and wires pile up atop smoothed-over red dirt that was once crowded with huge trees.

Why it matters: This is one of the most anticipated (and expensive) developments underway in the Carolinas. Team owner David Tepper has said the goal is to make campus an entertainment destination where fans can connect with the team. It’ll be a year-round home for Panthers’ business and football operations — along with non-football events.

  • Its place in South Carolina also cements the team’s “One Carolina” mantra.

Of note: This campus will house the team’s headquarters and practice facilities; they’ll continue to play games at Bank of America Stadium.

When it’s all said and done, the campus, located a stone’s throw off I-77, will have:

  • A 5,000-square-foot outdoor multipurpose stadium
  • An indoor, 500-seat practice facility
  • A public plaza for a range of events
  • An outdoor, landscaped open space intended to be a “front door” to the development
  • A team headquarters, situated inside a nearly 700,000-square-foot facility the team is calling “The Rock.”
  • Outdoor practice fields
  • A sports medicine facility
  • Corporate offices
  • Residential space
  • Retail space
  • New public streets
  • Sidewalks and trails for walkers and cyclists

Speaking with reporters this week in Rock Hill, Panthers chief operating officer Mark Hart said the campus will be unlike anything else in the NFL.

“We want (fans) to see a very apparent, purposeful place that’s going to improve our football team and improve their chances of winning,” Hart said.

“That building, the Rock, is primarily a place for the Carolina Panthers to be more efficient and gain a competitive edge and keep and attract players and have the best coaching staff and best facilities.”

Along with its football uses, the campus also aims to be a destination for fans. One day it’ll be able to host a range of events year-round, from concerts to festivals to proms to car shows, Hart added.

  • “We want a place of connection for our fans and community to our team,” Hart said. “Hopefully that building, the parts that are accessible to the public, can be in business 365 days a year.”

Fun fact: The team looked all over for ideas for the new campus. For the football facilities, the team drew inspiration from the Minnesota Vikings and and Dallas Cowboys, Hart said. For inspiration for the corporate offices inside The Rock, the team recently visited the sleek new LendingTree offices in South End.

  • Designers of that space have called the vibe a mix between resident and commercial — or “resimercial.”

Here’s a look at construction underway today:

construction in Rock Hill on the Panthers new headquarters
construction in Rock Hill on the Panthers new headquarters

Flashback: Before the Panthers began construction on the site, the Hutchisons — one of the oldest families in Rock Hill with deep ties in the community, as the Observer reported recently — owned the land for generations and primarily used it for hunting. They’d first bought it in 1840 from the Catawba Indian Nation.

construction in Rock Hill on the Panthers new headquarters

In spring 2020, the Panthers bought the land for more than $16 million, the Rock Hill Herald wrote at the time. They also bought the nearby Waterford Golf Club.

  • South Carolina is giving the team $115 million in tax breaks for the campus, the Herald has reported. York County is giving $225 million in tax breaks for the project’s infrastructure.

Timeline: The team broke ground on the project in July 2020, about nine months later than they’d originally planned. The goal now is to wrap up construction and begin moving in in 2023, per Hart. Training camp will take place at The Rock starting in 2023, too.

What’s next: The Panthers’ property includes an additional roughly 75 acres of developable land they’re not currently building on. In the next few weeks, the team plans to select a master developer for that land. All kinds of development could go up there, Hart said, including a hotel, retail, offices and residential space.

Here’s what the facility will look like once construction is wrapped up. All of these renderings are courtesy of the Panthers:

panthers rock hill facility football
panthers rock hill facility football
panthers rock hill facility football
panthers rock hill facility football
panthers rock hill facility football
panthers rock hill facility football
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