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Ok, I’ll Give Big Cat My Pennies

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Before Erik Spanberg dropped his bombshell story http://bit.ly/13ARvMP of Jerry Richardson’s succession plan in The Charlotte Business Journal, I was against the city of Charlotte paying a proposed $125 Million on upgrades to Bank of America Stadium http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/01/15/3787862/charlotte-to-discuss-panthers.html . Not because I don’t think the stadium needs improvements to keep up with the (Jerry) Joneses. It desperately does. But because I thought Richardson should pay more than the reported $75 million out of his own pocket.

“Big Cat” Richardson is reportedly worth more than $500 million and has made a big chunk of that fortune off of Charlotte residents by charging them extra for a personal seat license into his stadium. It was a brilliant idea, but when your team has made the playoffs just four times in eighteen seasons, and you never make yourself accessible to the community, many people become angry while your bank account is flourishing. In other words, Big Cat could easily foot the entire bill.

Moreover, Charlotte’s taxpayers have already dropped their extra pennies on a Whitewater Center that’s not very easy to get to, and is outrageously expensive. They do have a great beer selection, though. We’ve also helped pay for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, a brand new Uptown Minor League Baseball Stadium, and Time Warner Cable Arena. All of those things seemed like worthy endeavors, but at what point is too much, especially when their owners can afford it?

Yesterday, I thought we had reached that point when I read about the proposed plan to renovate our football stadium. That was before I saw Spanberg’s piece in the CBJ. If this $125 million assures the city of Charlotte that the Panthers will be tied to our town after Mr. Richardson passes on, then I’m ready to reach in my pocket. Again.

The Carolina Panthers are one of the most important parts of Charlotte’s economy. Assuring us of their presence can make me forget about personal greed, lack of access, and results.

Furthermore, I hope this money allows Charlotte to have a fighting chance at hosting a Super Bowl or getting their Military Auto Loans initiative going, being part of the national championship playoffs in college football, and attracting even better concerts. And I’m glad it gives us a glimpse at Richardson’s succession plan: one that almost forces the next owner to stay in the Queen City.

So, you can have another one of my pennies. But when you ask for a new golf course, soccer field, or skating rink I’ll be tapping out.


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