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Gov McCrory Keeps Arms-Length From Charlotte Airport, Panthers Stadium Debates

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Charlotte City leaders are engaged in high-stakes battles in Raleigh over the future of the Panthers and the airport.  But Governor Pat McCrory – who was the city's longest-serving mayor – has said very little about either issue. 

The airport is one of Charlotte's most important assets in attracting new companies and jobs. Governor Pat McCrory says when he was just "Mayor Pat" he supported having the airport as a city department. So why is he not going to bat for the city as a bill speeds through the legislature that would put the airport in control of a regional authority?

"I have not been asked to intervene in this issue," said McCrory in an interview Monday afternoon.

That may soon change. Mayor Anthony Foxx has requested a meeting with the governor to discuss the airport.

McCrory maintains the schism is not one between Charlotte and Raleigh, but rather between the political and business communities within the city.

"I strongly encourage – as a former mayor, mainly as governor – that these factions get in a room, talk about what the problem is and come up with the best long-term solution," says McCrory. "In the meantime, I hope the legislation is slowed down a little bit and that they really study the ramifications both for and against an authority before that legislation proceeds."

The bill is scheduled for debate by the full Senate on Wednesday. If it makes it over to the House, Speaker Thom Tillis expects his colleagues to be "methodical" in reviewing the measure.

Governor McCrory notes the bill won't even require his signature since it affects only a small number of counties and is considered "local legislation." On the other hand, McCrory says he would sign a bill giving Charlotte the authority to raise taxes for Bank of America Stadium renovation, but says "I do make recommendations that I think the package needs to be a little more refined."

The city has asked permission to double its restaurant tax for the next 30 years, raising about $1 billion.  That's far more than the $125 million request from the Panthers. City officials have been vague about their plans for the rest of the money.

As for the $62 million the Panthers would like state leaders to contribute to stadium renovations, McCrory says he will not support that.