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Mr. Scot

Updates on the team sale

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A possible majority owner identified, and more discussion about a possible new stadium...

Courtesy of WCNC (link)

 

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Businessman Felix Sabates confirmed to NBC Charlotte he is heading up a group that wants to purchase the Carolina Panthers and keep the team in Charlotte. This week NBC Charlotte has learned who else is part of that group.

Brian France, the head of NASCAR, is part of a group that wants to buy the Carolina Panthers with France becoming the new major holder, multiple sources confirmed to NBC Charlotte.

NBC Charlotte learned in late December a group was being formed to purchase the team, but this is the first big name attached to it.

Brian France and the France family built the NASCAR dynasty that began with early races on the sand at Daytona Beach. It grew to become a string of super tracks spread across the country.

France follows in the footsteps of his father Bill France and is said to be a millionaire many times over.

Sabates would not comment on France being part of the group. However, three sources, all in positions to know, confirmed to NBC Charlotte that France was part of the group and would be the majority owner if the deal goes through. NBC Charlotte agreed not to name the sources because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

France has denied this repeatedly, but it sounds like it's at least plausible. Wouldn't be the first case of a big name denying something that later turned out to be true.

One thing for certain: Lotta folks on this board are not gonna like this if it proves true.

 

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Bruton Smith and his son Marcus, who made a name in developing the Charlotte Motor Speedway and tracks across the country, are now interested in joining the local group that wants to buy the Carolina Panthers.

Sabates today told NBC Charlotte he had spoken to the Smiths and added they have an interest in pursuing further discussions.

Bruton Smith is chairman of Speedway Motorsports that operates the Charlotte Motor Speedway and other tracks across the country. Marcus Smith is CEO of the company and recently led the effort to bring a major league soccer team to Charlotte.

Speedway spokesperson Scott Cooper said the Smiths were not going to comment on any interest they might have in buying the team.

The Smiths aren't so much denying it as just not saying anything.

From what I've heard some say, it might be hard to imagine France and the Smiths working together and playing nice on this.

 

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James Mitchell, the powerful head of the Economic Development Committee of the Charlotte City Council said he will do all he can to keep the Panthers in Charlotte.

Mitchell was responding to an NBC Charlotte report that the Sabates group was interested in land located off Carowinds Boulevard at the state line.

Asked if he could support that location, Mitchell said, “We are about keeping the asset that we cherish in Charlotte.”

He then added, “I’m going to keep all possibilities open but my preference will be Charlotte.”

State Representative Chaz Beasley who represents the area nearest the state line said everyone needs to keep an open mind.

“This is a regional team. It’s the Carolina Panthers, not the Charlotte Panthers and we need to treat it that way. We should try to do what’s best for the entire region and the state as well,” he said.

So here you've got at least one state legislator who's open to the idea of the state line location and a city council guy who sounds like he's not a fan of the idea but might end up having to accept it.  Those things could come into play further down the road.

 

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Farmer Jim Miller owns 220 acres of land right on the line between North and South Carolina. From his property, you can see uptown Charlotte from a distance.

Two sources, including a Charlotte government official, have told NBC Charlotte that there is interest in building a new stadium for the Carolina Panthers in the Carowinds Boulevard area and Miller’s property fits the bill.

“A long time ago, this was one of the first places that they picked to put it right on the state line and call it 'State Line Stadium,'” Miller said.

He continued, “They said they thought it was too far out. Now it's not a bit too far out.”

And this coming from another Charlotte official lends further credence.

 

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Sabates would not confirm to NBC Charlotte that he is looking at Miller's farm, but he has said if his group does buy the Panthers, they would need a new domed stadium with parking for 20,000 cars.

The Miller farm would fit that bill with ample space for high-revenue parking, something an uptown location would likely not be able to offer.

And there is this connection: Jim Miller has a son named Steve, whose wife went to school with Felix Sabates' son.

Jim Miller is a longtime Panthers fan and said it was intriguing to think about the future and the possibility the Panthers would be playing on the old Miller homestead.

“Yeah, that sounds pretty good, doesn't it?” he said with a smile.

You know what they say about "who you know".

 

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With all the talk about a new Panthers owner wanting a new stadium, many are asking -- what's wrong with Bank of America Stadium?

"I think this is a great, classic football stadium," said architect Ron Smith. And I would hate to see it go away."

Smith is Principal Manager of McMillan, Pazdan, Smith, which along with David K. Wagner of Wagner-Murray, helped make renovations to the stadium which were estimated to cost close to $300 million.

Those renovations, which are still being completed, included two new video boards, escalators, suite upgrades, ribbon scoreboards, and WiFi.

"The idea was to enhance what we already had with as many modern fan amenities as we could and to make it a viable stadium for years to come," Smith told NBC Charlotte.

In fact it was just April 2014 when David K. Wagner said: "we'll basically have a brand new stadium that will last another 15 to 20 years."

But Sabates told our reporter Rad Berky a new stadium would need to be built.

And while that's not something Smith would like to see, he knows that's part of a multi-billion dollar sale of an NFL franchise.

"Certainly a new owner needs to entertain whatever thoughts they would like to entertain," he said.

And entertainment is the wave of the future.

It's almost like an indoor Disney World at some stadiums to some degree," Smith said of newer stadiums.

Brand new stadiums like the ones in Atlanta and Minnesota have field level suites, fixed or retractable roofs, party decks, and even bigger video screens.

"It's trying to attract the fan from their couch at home." Smith said, "and get them in there and give them as many things to do to entertainment."

But Smith would put Bank of America Stadium up there with any in the league, especially when it comes to luxury seating and fan experience.

"It competes with what they have," Smith said, "and more in some ways."

Sabates doesn't sound like he's gonna back down on this.  If his group wins the bid, I get the feeling he'll get his way.

 

Side Note: Fans of Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos buying the team will probably be disappointed to hear that Charlotte is out of the running for the new Amazon building.  Raleigh is still in it, for what that's worth.

Edited by Mr. Scot
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It'll be DeBartolo or some other "unknown." The group making the most noise is never the one that ends up winning the bid.

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3 minutes ago, LordOfDaWingz said:

People outside of Charlotte hate Charlotte so it does not surprise me that Chaz Beasley said that. Although this is a regional team, the Panthers belong in Charlotte. I'm sure Raleigh and the government will come up with some plan to move the team there like they've done with any other team or business that's shown interest in Charlotte.

I'm not a fan of Sabates and definitely not a fan of his Domed stadium idea. I'd rather he stay TF away from my team.

Sabates is still the only serious contender who's said anything about this publicly (unless you count DeBartolo).

Edited by Mr. Scot

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1 minute ago, Panthera onca said:

I so hope Sabates does not end up being a part of the new ownership. The stadium belongs in uptown and needs to stay there. 

Sabates won't necessarily be the only one who wants a new stadium.  Other potential bidders could very easily feel the same.

The more it's discussed, the more it sounds like the "State Line" stadium idea has legs.

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5 minutes ago, thomas96 said:

It'll be DeBartolo or some other "unknown." The group making the most noise is never the one that ends up winning the bid.

Possible, but as mentioned above, that doesn't necessarily put an end to the 'new stadium' talk.

Fair to note that Sabates is the only member of the group that's "making noise".  Everyone else is holding silent, including France.

Edited by Mr. Scot

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4 minutes ago, PurityControl said:

To nuke the stadium after only 20yrs and a major refurb, seems REDONK

Billionaire pissing contest with the new shiny toy, I want one too.

BS

I'd agree, but I'm not a billionaire.

Jerryworld really redrew the map on stadiums.  Everybody wants that 'shiny new toy' now.

Edited by Mr. Scot
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2 minutes ago, Mr. Scot said:

I'd agree, but I'm not a billionaire.

Jerryworld really redrew the map on stadiums.  Everybody wants that 'shiny new toy' now.

As long as they pay for it themselves which never happens, I hate when public money is used for that sh*t , 2 billion dollar disneyland fantasy dome and 3miles outside of it is a war zone.. GTFO

I’m glad Oakland said FU to the raiders for their stadium.

 

 

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7 minutes ago, PurityControl said:

To nuke the stadium after only 20yrs and a major refurb, seems REDONK

Billionaire pissing contest with the new shiny toy, I want one too.

BS

No one has said they want to replace BOA immediately.  Ever.  A new owner has a cash cow sitting in uptown for the next 10 years - they are just talking about 10, 20 years from now.  It would take 2-3 years to even fund, design and build a new stadium at least!   A new ownership group would be dumb to not think about the long term future of the Panthers.  We would be dumb as fans to not want our ownership group to have comparable revenues to other teams also.  If we fall into the bottom 1/4 of the league in revenue because we are too stubborn to modernize and stay relevant then THAT is how we lose the Panthers all together.  

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