CHARLOTTE — At an event at the Charlotte Chamber Friday, city leaders defended the proposals that would use taxpayer money to partially fund improvements to Bank of America stadium.
This all comes as Deadspin, an investigative sports website, published an article criticizing the Carolina Panthers for seeking public money. However, according to the article, the team had profits in excess of $100 million over the last two fiscal years. The article was critical of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson for seeking the funds amid the reported profits, saying Richardson "cried hardship" even though the team was financially successful.
The article appears to have done little to impact the positions of Charlotte city leaders backing the plans that could increase city food and beverage taxes or divert tax money from the city's convention center to fund the stadium improvements.
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said Friday that while the amount of money the team could potentially receive from the city seems large, it will mean even bigger returns for Charlotte in the long run.
"Its not the most important issue, but we've got to figure it out. Because if that hole is there in our economy and in our brand as a city, I think it is going to hurt us," said Foxx.
Mohammad Jenatian of the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance is continuing to support the proposed measures in spite of the Deadspin article.
"As far as Panthers making a lot of money the past few years, it is wonderful,” said Jenatian.
Charlotte City councilmember Warren Cooksey, the only member of the Council who voted against the proposal to increase the food and beverage tax, said the Deadspin article leaves the supporters of the measure with work to do.
"Whatever information comes out, those folks who are in favor of a one percent prepared food and beverage tax should be out making the case for it" said Cooksey.
The Carolina Panthers issued a statement in response to the Deadspin article, saying it inflated the team's profits over the last two years.
Ryan Anderson with the Carolina Panthers released the following statement:
The Deadspin story presents an incomplete picture of the Carolina Panthers profitability. The figures offer an isolated snapshot of the team’s financial situation during an unusual time as the NFL lockout loomed. At the time, the team had strategically reduced its spending because of the uncertainty and as part of a long-term plan to secure the team's best talent once a collective bargaining agreement had been reached. The team's actual operating cash flow, even before federal and state tax payments were made, was significantly less than the accounting income reported in the story. The most meaningful reflection of a company's profitability is cash flow, and the team's operating cash flow fluctuated between pre-tax figures of $26.7 million in fiscal year 2011 and $39.8 million in fiscal year 2012. A detailed review of the financial statements demonstrates the difficulty of being competitive in the NFL, paying players to the cap, and trying to add the financing of a major stadium renovation.