Prospects of restarting a stalled multi-hundred million dollar sports training facility in South Carolina appeared to take a turn for the worse.
Representatives of the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers have announced that the team is terminating a contract with the city of Rock Hill, S.C., to complete construction of an $800-million headquarters and training facility.
The team halted construction on the 20-month-old project in mid-March in a dispute over the city’s purported failure to follow through on a commitment to fund $225 million worth of infrastructure upgrades at the 234-acre site.
Panthers owner David Tepper, through his Charlotte-based holding company, claimed that the city of Rock Hill was a year late in making an initial payment on a commitment to fund $225 million worth of infrastructure. The 234-acre site was supposed to include a mix of hotel, apartment and commercial spaces. Tax revenue generated from the properties was to be used to repay the bonds. A new interchange with nearby Interstate 77 is also part of the project.
Rock Hill officials countered that the team had not provided sufficient information to move forward with a planned bond sale without putting city finances at risk.
Despite Rock Hill’s subsequent offer of a revised financial plan, GT Real Estate Holdings, the team’s real estate representative, notified the city on April 19 that it was formally terminating previous agreements. A spokesperson for the company expressed a willingness “to sit down with the city and other interested parties to discuss the significant challenges ahead.”
In a statement, Rock Hill officials also left the door open to further negotiation, but stressed that the city had fulfilled its obligations under the agreements.
Earlier this month, Mascaro Construction and Barton Malow, the construction manager at-risk joint venture tapped by the Panthers to build the development, declined to comment on the project pause or disclose how far work had progressed since ground was broken in July 2020. Tepper did not respond to ENR’s request for comment.
One part of the project unaffected by the Panthers’ decision is a new I-77 interchange being constructed by a joint venture of United Infrastructure Group and Blythe Development Co. Funded by the South Carolina Dept. of Transportation, the $48-million design-build project is intended to support economic development in the area, including the Panthers development site. The interchange is scheduled to be completed in May 2023.