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Bill Allows City To Pay For Stadium Upgrades, But Not With New Taxes

State lawmakers have introduced a bill that would allow the city of Charlotte to pay for renovations to Bank of America stadium, but not the way the city wants to.  The bill sponsored by four Mecklenburg County lawmakers gives the city flexibility to redirect tax money earmarked for the convention center. 

City officials want the state legislature to let council double the 1 percent prepared-food tax to raise the $143 million promised to the Panthers.  Doing that would raise much more than what the Panthers are requesting.  City officials want to use some of the additional money to turn Bojangles’ Coliseum into an amateur sports complex.   

But Representative Ruth Samuelson says there’s no stomach for a tax increase. 

“The bottom line is we want to help the Panthers.  We want to help the city help the Panthers, but we’re not going to do it with a tax increase,” she says. 

The bill would leave the city about $33 million short of its agreement with the Panthers.  City councilman Michael Barnes says that would mean the council would have to go back to the drawing board with the team. 

“If we only have the authority that they’re proposing in the bill, then we’ll have to trim something out of the package and we’ll also have to reassess how we do the amateur sports projects,” says Barnes.

The city’s plan also hinges on getting $62.5 million from the state.  Representative Samuelson says Governor Pat McCrory could consider using state commerce department money for that.