[image-1] South Carolina could send nearly $115 million in tax incentives to the Carolina Panthers in an attempt by politicians to convince the pro football team to move its headquarters and practice facilities into York County.

On Tuesday, the S.C. House voted to approve a plan that would cost the state at least $7.6 million in tax revenue per year for the next 15 years for jobs the team says it will provide if they shifted operations a few minutes south from their current home in Charlotte. The team would continue to play games at Bank of America Stadium in downtown Charlotte.
[image-3] In 2018, the Panthers were bought by billionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper for $2.275 billion. An investor who spent time at Goldman Sachs, during the recession Tepper made billions managing a fund that bought banking stocks as they tanked, betting that the U.S. government would not let them fail. Tepper’s reported $11.6 billion net worth makes him the NFL’s wealthiest owner.

In a 2010 New York profile, one of Tepper’s buddies described him as a pennywise billionaire. “If Dave can take twelve bucks off me on the golf course, he will do it, with pleasure and with a smile.”

The S.C. Senate has yet to decide whether Dave will take 115 million bucks off the residents of South Carolina.

A bipartisan group of 25 House members voted “No” on the proposal, including Charleston-area Reps. Lin Bennett, Nancy Mace, J.A. Moore, Marvin Pendarvis, and Krystle Simmons.

[image-2] Pendarvis’ opposition stems from concerns over what recourse S.C. taxpayers will have to make sure they’re getting good value for their money.

“I have an issue with the amount of corporate tax breaks the state gives out without any accounting of whether the benefits are actually realized,” the North Charleston Democrat told the City Paper on Tuesday.

“Also, I’m not convinced S.C. will receive much of a benefit in job creation. Are we requiring them to hire S.C. contractors, or hire S.C. employees for this new facility? If this is just a transfer of personnel to S.C., I have an issue,” Pendarvis said.

The team’s highly paid players and coaches are included in the estimated $190 million annual payroll that state number crunchers say would be paid out from the new HQ. The state would forgo all state corporate and individual income taxes as part of the deal.

One of the bill’s supporters, Majority Leader Gary Simrill of York County, defended the decision, telling the Post and Courier that the state was obligated to offer the same incentives as other companies relocating to S.C. [embed-1] The Panthers have held training camp at Wofford College since the team’s early days. Those plans are up in the air since team founder Jerry Richardson, a Wofford graduate, sold the team amid reports of racial and sexual accusations by employees.

As cities look to lure NFL teams and owners continue looking to take all the free money they can get, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles told Bloomberg last week that keeping the Panthers in the Queen City is her “biggest retention project.”

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