COLUMBIA, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - The South Carolina Senate has agreed to provide $115 million in tax breaks to the Carolina Panthers to move their practice fields and team headquarters out of North Carolina.
The 27-15 vote Thursday came after contentious debate with several senators questioning whether public money should be given to a billionaire NFL owner and the $3.8 billion proposed economic benefit of the new facility is wildly exaggerated.
The bill will now have to move through the SC House for final approval, The State reports. It's passage was delayed for two months by Senator Dick Harpootlian.
He said he wanted more accurate information on how much economic impact the Panthers could bring to South Carolina, skeptical of the intial number provided by owner David Tepper.
The bill, enthusiastically backed by Gov. Henry McMaster, would exempt the Panthers from paying state income taxes for players, coaches and other employees for 15 years as long as they use the money to build their new complex near Rock Hill.
This vote sends a resounding message to the world that South Carolina is committed to creating the most competitive business environment in the world so that South Carolinians can benefit from jobs created by great organizations like the @Panthers. #SCStrong #KeepPounding https://t.co/Wr8W8QJsFk— Gov. Henry McMaster (@henrymcmaster) May 9, 2019
The team will continue to play games 15 miles north in Charlotte.
McMaster is expected to quickly sign the bill. He compared the Panthers move to the success of the Dallas Cowboys facility in Texas. Harpootlian, however, says a more accurate comparison would be the Redskins training camp move to Richmond, VA.
An audit showed the city paid $10 million for a new field there, but revenues fell short and the audit showed the city had to make more than $1 million in unexpected cash payments to the team.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.