• Landis Barber

The Carolina Panthers and South Carolina Tax Credits


Image via Bleacher Report


As a part of the deal to move the Carolina Panthers’ headquarters to South Carolina, South Carolina agreed to $115 million in tax credits. Now, South Carolina State Senator Wes Climer argues that the tax credits will go away if the team does not move its payroll to South Carolina by 2024.


Initially, the Carolina Panthers, through its real estate holding company GT Real Estate Holdings, LLC, agreed to a Fee In Lieu of Tax and Incentive (FILOT) Agreement with York County, South Carolina, which included $225 million in pre-approved infrastructure bonds from the City of Rock Hill. The infrastructure provided by the bonds would include roads, sewage, water, and electricity. However, the City never issued the bonds, maintaining the position that the Panthers did not submit enough details to issue the bonds.


In March, the Panthers paused construction on the new facility after having spent over $170 million on the project due to concerns over the lack of funding from the city, including the failure to furnish the $225 million in infrastructure bonds.


On March 21, in an effort to restart construction on the Project, York County passed a resolution to amend the FILOT agreement with GT Real Estate Holdings, LLC by allowing the Panthers to pay for the $225 million in infrastructure and offering to reimburse GT Real Estate Holdings, LLC through property tax credits over a 30-year period. On March 28, Rock Hill passed a resolution supporting York County’s resolution.


To date, the Panthers have not responded to York County’s alternative fee arrangement, which has upset lawmakers and led to Senator Climer’s comments.


The Carolina Panthers are now in a curious position. They could accept the new fee arrangement from the county. The problem—beyond it not being the original agreement—is that, for the Panthers to get fully reimbursed, the Panthers are bound to the property for 30 years. While Panthers fans would like to ensure the team sticks around forever, the Panthers may want more flexibility in the future.


Another option is to sue York County or the City of Rock Hill for breaching their agreements. But litigation takes a lot of time, and the Panthers would rather get the facility up and running to recoup the costs of construction and ensure that they receive the tax credits from the state. Thus, the time (and the costs) it would take to reach a resolution likely does not appeal to the organization.


Now, the Panthers are likely working behind the scenes to try and work out a deal that can resume construction on the project. According to Governor Henry McMaster, Panthers owner David Tepper has assured him that it is only a pause. Until a resolution is finally worked out, the construction will remain paused, and the Carolina Panthers will not be moving to South Carolina.


Landis Barber is an attorney at Safran Law Offices in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can connect with him via LinkedIn or via his blog offthecourtdocket.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Landisbarber.