Bank of America Stadium is a perfectly modern and lovely venue that hosts 10 football games a year. But Panthers owner Jerry Richardson wants more! He wants new escalators! A new video board! Better wi-fi in the stadium! And he wants you—the fan who already pays to attend games—to pay for most of the upgrades.
We've seen this play out across the country. In just the last month, the Bills got their taxpayer-funded improvements, while the Rams and Dolphins made a case for their public funds. Every owner wants a new stadium—they just don't want to pay for it. This is fair only if you believe the league-trumpeted line that a franchise invigorates the local economy, and disbelieve the studies that find there's no such correlation.
The Panthers' master plan, which would see construction begin after next season, is estimated to cost between $261 million and $297 million. They'd like $144 million of that to come from a Charlotte tax hike, and $62.5 million to come from the state. Not in taxes, just a $62.5 million payment from North Carolina. For escalators and such.
About that local tax: most teams, when seeking public money for upgrades, find it through hotel tax increases. That way, local politicians can genuinely say they're punishing tourists and not constituents. That's not the case here. The Charlotte City Council is supporting a plan to raise the city's food-and-beverage tax, meaning Bank of America Stadium upgrades won't be paid for by Charlotteans—unless they want to eat or drink things.
In an interview with the Associated Press, team president Danny Morrison said the renovations would go a long way toward helping BoA Stadium land a Super Bowl. The AP, characteristically pithy, points out that Charlotte doesn't have nearly enough hotel rooms to ever get one. Los Angeles does, though!