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Deal between Panthers, Rock Hill is literally on the rocks

Mike Florio and Myles Simmons talk about the possibility of Kenny Pickett being the first quarterback taken in the draft and whether it makes sense for the Panthers to take that chance.

Nearly a month after the Panthers pulled the plug on construction of a new headquarters and practice facility in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the impasse may end with the Panthers walking away.

Via the Charlotte Business Journal, a York County councilman believes the Panthers have permanently abandoned the project, and that the team will instead seek to recover its expenses from Rock Hill.

The Panthers pressed pause last month after Rock Hill failed to issue bonds for $225 million in taxpayer funding for the 240-acre development. The powers-that-be have since tried to come up with an alternative financing plan. However, the Panthers have not accepted this approach.

On March 7, Panthers owner David Tepper said through Tepper Sports that more than $170 million has been invested in the project.

State Senator Wes Climer lashed out at Tepper. “If David Tepper’s behavior is indicative of how the NFL does business, then who wants to do business with the NFL?” Climer said, via

Separately on Tuesday, Climer ripped Tepper in comments to the Charlotte Business Journal.

“The bottom line is that our community deserves answers,” Climer said. “The city, the county, the state and the Panthers worked together constructively for a considerable period of time at great effort to bring to Rock Hill a world-class sports entertainment center. David Tepper came to Rock Hill promising us Jerry Jones and ever since then he’s given us Dan Snyder.”

If Tepper, one of the richest owners in the NFL, simply walks away without trying to work things out with Rock Hill, it could create a major problem for the NFL. Given the league’s misadventures in St. Louis, it surely doesn’t relish another piece of litigation that likely would play out in the state-court system of a city that has gotten the raw end of a deal with the NFL.

Beyond the potential for a legal battle, an interloping hedge-fund manager from Pittsburgh sticking it to a small Southern town smack dab in the middle of the team’s fan base will create a P.R. nightmare for Tepper. And it could make it a lot harder for Tepper to get the kind of public funding he’ll want for a new stadium.

Frankly, there’s a good chance Tepper is playing high-level hardball with Rock Hill as a shot across the bow at Charlotte. The hard bargain Tepper has chosen to drive in South Carolina could be a precursor to the hard bargain he’ll drive in North Carolina.

Maybe that’s why Tepper seems to be untroubled by the current situation. His deeper message could be far more pointed.

Give me what I want, or I eventually will be gone.