Jun 3, 2024 - Sports

Fresh renderings: Bank of America Stadium's $800M makeover

BofA Stadium North Gate.

Bank of America Stadium's North Gate. Rendering: Courtesy of Tepper Sports & Entertainment

Bank of America Stadium could soon have an $800 million new look.

Why it matters: The nearly 30-year-old Uptown stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte FC, is one of the oldest in the NFL. A proposed renovation plan, released Monday, would ensure the franchises stay here for at least 20 more years, but it will also almost certainly rankle residents who don't want to use taxpayer money for pro sports teams.

By the numbers: As part of the $800 million overhaul, Tepper Sports & Entertainment is asking for $650 million in taxpayer money. It would come from city's hospitality and tourism tax, which legally must be used on projects that generate tourism dollars.

  • TSE would invest $150 million.

Zoom in: The proposed deal includes 20-year non-relocation agreement between the city and TSE. The team plans to invest an additional $421 million over the life of the deal.

What to expect: Stadium upgrades call for:

  • New seating in the bowl.
  • A south lawn pavilion that can serve as a gathering spot and outdoor classroom.
  • Upgraded video and audio systems, including the scoreboard and video-board.
  • Exterior stadium improvements.
  • Upgraded bathrooms.
  • Improved accessibility and redesigned concourses.
  • Safety and security upgrades, like better lighting.
  • Modernized infrastructure, including plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems.

Context: Tepper, whose net worth according to Forbes is $20.6 billion, bought the Panthers in 2018 for $2.275 billion, a record fee at the time. He paid a record $325 million expansion fee to bring Major League Soccer to Charlotte, and funded $50 million in stadium renovations ahead of Charlotte FC's inaugural season in 2022. The stadium also hosts significantly more events now, including soccer games beyond MLS and concerts.

  • "We have to modernize the facility to meet its current needs," Charlotte City Council member Malcolm Graham tells Axios.
  • The Panthers are also redeveloping the team's practice facilities next to the stadium, which Charlotte City Council is expected to vote on June 17. The team announced this past December it would move its training camp to Uptown, rather than at Wofford in Spartanburg, S.C., where it had been held since 1995.

Friction points: In 2022, TSE opted not to move forward with plans for Charlotte FC to have a presence at Eastland Yards, instead establishing its headquarters elsewhere in east Charlotte in order to get the team settled into a permanent home.

What's next: A vote from Charlotte City Council on the stadium is expected on June 24. Construction would begin in 2025 and is intended to be complete by 2029. Neither the Panthers nor Charlotte FC will have to relocate during construction.

What they're saying: "This renovation is about modernizing the stadium to deliver elevated experiences while preserving the overall character and location that fans have known and loved for decades," Panthers president Kristi Coleman said in a statement.

What we're watching: Taxpayer-funded stadium plans spark passionate debates, especially for struggling teams. That was the case in 2013 when former owner Jerry Richardson asked for — and ultimately received — $87.5 million in funding from the city for upgrades to Bank of America Stadium.

  • More recently, over in Tennessee, Nashville's Metro Council spent more than a year considering a new, domed, $2.1 billion Titans stadium in 2022 and 2023.
  • Council members there approved using $760 million in local taxpayer funds, coming from a 1% hotel tax and plus sales tax collected in a new surrounding development. The state of Tennessee kicked in $500 million in bonds, and the Titans are on the hook for $840 million.

Between the lines: Charlotte is also renovating Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets, with a total $275 million committed to arena upgrades and a new standalone practice facility for the team. But the Hornets, like the Panthers, haven't sniffed the playoffs in years.

The bottom line: Charlotte is in the midst of a rebuilding era for two of its three major league teams in every sense of the expression.

Take a look at the renderings:

South Lawn.
Bank of America Stadium's south lawn. Rendering: Courtesy of Tepper Sports & Entertainment
BofA upper deck.
Bank of America Stadium's south lawn. Rendering: Courtesy of Tepper Sports & Entertainment
BofA Stadium.
Rendering: Courtesy of Tepper Sports & Entertainment
Bank of America Stadium renovated concourse.
Rendering: Courtesy of Tepper Sports & Entertainment
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