Charlotte City Leaders Discuss Future of Panthers

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte City Council is speaking in response to Jerry Richardson’s  announcement about his intentions to sell the Carolina Panthers.

There's been speculation that the prospective buyer from outside the Carolinas could acquire the team and then move them.

It's a possibility that exists but not until after the 2018 season. 

The City of Charlotte and the Panthers organization are tethered together after the city poured $87.5 million into stadium renovations, which started back in 2013. 

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On Monday night before the weekly city council meeting, council members reiterated the city's commitment to the Panthers. 

"When you look at the impact the Carolina Panthers have made to this city, it's huge," said James Mitchell Jr., an at-large council member and chair of the Economic Development Committee. 

Mitchell said the Panthers have taken the Queen City's crown to new heights. 

"I do truly think that that's why people know it's Charlotte, not Charlotte, North Carolina," he said.

Forbes values the Panthers franchise at about $2.3 billion and Mitchell said it's up to the city to keep the team's value up. 

"I do think the clock will start ticking if we have not made that [new] ownership happy by 2019," Mitchell said. "I think there will be a lot of people who will have some strong anxiety in the city of Charlotte."

On the field, the Panthers are sitting squarely in the playoff picture with a 10-4 record, not causing any anxiety. Any uneasiness in the organization stems from the workplace harassment allegations against outgoing owner Jerry Richardson. 

"Terrible thing that's going on in our country. We've got to find ways to treat each other better," said Braxton Winston, an at-large member who is serving his first term with the council. 

While Richardson is distancing himself from the team by stepping down from day-to-day operations, the city wants to be sure that it remains close to the organization and keep up with the Jones'. 

The case in point is the stadium improvements. 

"I think it's been money well spent. People have appreciated the changes and it's those improvements to the stadium that will keep the team here," said District 1 Rep. Larken Egleston.