In this day and age where fiscal conservatism is so popular and politicians find it difficult to raise public funds for much of anything, the only time when people don’t seem to feel shy asking for public money is renovating football stadiums.
Back in November, we reported that the Miami Dolphins were seeking about $220 million to renovate Sun Life Field, despite the fact that the team was still in debt $230 million from its last round of renovations. The reason for the urgency in improving the stadium again? To make it more likely to host a future Super Bowl, of course.
Now, it seems, the city of Charlotte is in a very similar position. According to the Charlotte Observer, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and president Danny Morrison appeared at a state delegation meeting on Tuesday, seeking about $200 million in public funds to renovate Bank of America Stadium in the hopes of landing a Super Bowl itself.
The team estimates that a renovation of the 16-year-old stadium would cost close to $300 million. To pay for the work, Richardson and Morrison, joined by deputy city manager Ron Kimble, have proposed a 1 percent food and beverage tax. According to ESPN, the Charlotte city council supports the tax, which would raise $144 million in revenue — another $62 million would come from state aid.
However, there are a couple issues with the proposal that are raising hackles. For one, such tax increases to pay for nonessential things (like a stadium renovation) are typically levied against hotels so locals won’t be on the hook to pay for a private entity’s improvements. Also, as The Associated Press points out, Charlotte does not have nearly enough hotel rooms to host a Super Bowl.