Panthers owner David Tepper offers little regarding Rock Hill, supports Rhule, Darnold
Prior to Wednesday’s press conference, Tepper had not spoken directly to the media since December 2020.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper spoke to the media Wednesday afternoon for the first time since December 2020, fielding questions on topics such as the stalled Rock Hill facility, as well as his belief in quarterback Sam Darnold.
After making some brief opening statements, Tepper was immediately asked questions regarding the team’s facility in Rock Hill, S.C.
When asked if the city of Rock Hill presented the Panthers with a plan that would have kept the construction project moving, Tepper would not answer the question, citing a request from the city to not have a “back-and-forth” in front of the public. He repeated numerous times throughout his press conference that he would “respect” that request.
Contrary to what earlier reports suggested, Tepper did claim that he “wanted to sit down” with the city of Rock Hill, and referenced the team’s statement regarding the stalled project multiple times.
Members of the media also asked if he hoped to resume the project at some point in the future, to which he responded, “at some point we may get to it.”
As for other developments, such as the Eastland Mall siteand the Uptown entertainment district, Tepper said that he preferred to “talk football,” but that he would be open to discussing other projects at a later date.
Deals between Tepper Sports & Entertainment and the City of Charlotte have changed frequently since the MLS team was awarded.
The two parties originally agreed to revamp the Eastland site with the MLS team headquarters and soccer fields, with taxpayers contributing $110 million. Later, the deal changed so that Eastland would not host the MLS team headquarters and the total contribution from the city was now just $35 million. $25 million of that money was earmarked for the developent of an entertainment district in Uptown around the stadium but there have been no updates on that progress since 2020.
Tepper also received questions regarding the possibility of building a new stadium, potentially on the current site of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry.
“It is the most logical place for the Carolina Panthers to be, is in Charlotte,” he said when asked if a new stadium would be built in Uptown. He added that the team’s current venue, Bank of America Stadium, which it now shares with Charlotte FC, is kept in “pristine” condition and looking nice.
The billionaire owner also noted that a feasibility report on the current stadium should be finished in the next few months, and will help gauge the status of the existing structure.
Despite his reluctance to comment on the Rock Hill situation, and his expressed interest in keeping the team’s gameday stadium in Charlotte, Tepper did say that the team would continue to be represented in both North and South Carolina.
“We will be down in South Carolina in different forms,” Tepper said. “We will be down there for the people of Rock Hill, support the community in different fashions and charity, and we will be in York County for Keep Pounding Day.”
When asked if the Panthers have any future plans in Rock Hill, he refused to elaborate any further than charity and community events, reiterating the request he said he received from the city.
On the football side of things, Tepper offered support for both head coach Matt Rhule, as well as quarterback Sam Darnold.
“I do believe that Coach Rhule and Scott [Fitterer] have done a good job of setting that foundation,” Tepper said.
“Foundation” was a word that he used several times throughout the press conference, describing the team as something that needed to be built over time.
Regarding Darnold, Tepper said multiple times that he believes the former third-overall draft pick is a “very good quarterback.”
He did not speak on the team’s pursuit of Deshaun Watson after being asked, saying that he did not wish to discuss players on other teams.
Tepper also offered little information into what the Panthers could do in this week’s NFL Draft, directing the media instead to ask those questions to general manager Scott Fitterer.
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