The North Carolina general assembly passed a bill this morning that will allow the city of Charlotte to allocate two tourism taxes toward funding for $300 million worth of renovations on the Panthers' stadium.
HB 193 passed on a 45-0 vote, and lawmakers are saying that it will not result in any raised taxes, but will instead reallocate funds from existing food, beverage, and tourism taxes. Revenue from those taxes had originally been earmarked for renovations on the Charlotte Convention Center.
The Panthers are still a long way off from getting all of the money they want from the state and the city. This bill will put a $24 million reserve fund—which can be leveraged for $110 million—toward the renovations, but the Panthers are still looking for an additional $90 million in public money. To its credit, the general assembly has resisted giving into all of the Panthers' demands. From the Charlotte Business Journal:
Earlier, the city endorsed a deal that would have included $144 million from local government and $63 million from the state. Gov. Pat McCrory nixed the notion of an investment by the state, and his Republican allies in the General Assembly opted not to back a city request for an increase in the local restaurant meals tax. The latter would have generated $125 million of the city contribution.
This is where we remind you that the Panthers are asking for money that they don't need, and that owner Jerry Richardson hasn't been shy about playing hardball with the state. If the Panthers can't get all of the money they want, they will likely revisit the terms of their propsed 15-year commitment to stay in North Carolina. And so the general assembly faces a tough decision: Ruin the budget, or annoy the Panthers.