Richardson issued a statement Sunday saying he’s dedicated to staying: “It has always been my desire that the Carolinas would be home of our Panthers. Nothing has changed. As someone who was born in North Carolina and lived much of my life in South Carolina, I hope that there would be no doubts about my personal devotion to the Carolinas.”
This is a telegraphed pass. The way for teams to fire a shot over the bow of their home cities is to bring up L.A. – or have it brought up for them. It’s no accident that in his statement Richardson doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of leaving. He leaves that door unlocked, by simply saying that it’s his desire to stay.
It’s not a coincidence that the Panthers are about to unfurl plans for a stadium renovation, and politicians in North Carolina have indicated that they’d be willing to help pay for them. What better way to firm up those commitments than to raise the possibility of a relocation to L.A.? That worked for Indianapolis, Seattle, New Orleans and others.
On top of that, Richardson is close friends with Patrick Soon-Shiong, the L.A. billionaire who is interested in buying AEG and being an owner of an NFL team playing in a downtown stadium. He has been Richardson’s guest at at least one Panthers game this season.
So it’s not inconceivable for Soon-Shiong, who needs Richardson to pave the way for him with the NFL, to do the Panthers owner a solid by nudging an L.A. politician to gin up interest in Carolina’s team, even if there are other franchises far more likely to relocate.
Well thought out but disagree. I think JR is just being honest. He wants to keep the team in Charlotte but the next owner can make more money in LA especially if the stadium isn't up to standard and could move the team there. JR could pay 125mill out of his own pockets if he wanted. But the city of Charlotte needs to be tied fiscally to the team if they're going to stay long term when JR departs his mortal coil. This deal is more like a minority ownership deal for the city then just about stadium upgrades.