The other day, I talked about the politics of sports and stadiums and whatnot. Whatnot being what it is (or what it is not), I figured I would offer a more concrete example. Enter the Carolina Panthers.
By no stretch of the imagination are the Panthers are marquee club of this or any other decade. They have not even been in existence for twenty years at this writing. Teams like the Bears and the Packers have a long history, and while perhaps not glorious, there is plenty to draw upon. Teams such as the Cowboys and the Redskins can look upon a slightly shorter, but still impressive history. Even former the former laughingstock Patriots have built an impressive machine.
But the Panthers? Not so much.
It seems like every story that is mentioned about a team returning the NFL to Southern Calfiornia is mentioned in the same breath with the Panthers, generally because of Jerry Richardson's age (and perceived ill health).
But it seems that people forget there is actually an ownership group in Charlotte (and/or the lesser defined "Carolinas"). This makes it slightly more difficult to move, though still not impossible.
Yet at many games, you can find almost as many away team colors as those from the home team, and because those fans often will come from out of state, they are generally there by kickoff and stay until the end of the game. Meanwhile, locals show up well into - or even after - the first quarter, and leave before the game ends in many cases. Then witness other stadiums where tailgating is an art form, actually taking up many hours (or in some cases, days) before the game.
What will it take to get the city involved? How about ownership?
The latest volley in the Panthers is that they want to upgrade the stadium. A fine offer, which seems to include new video screens and escalators (not sure about that one) but to do so, they want the government to pony up at least half the cost. Really? With the team raking in the money, despite not being a marquee attraction anywhere but here, they still want handouts?
According to Forbes, the team is worth something above a billion dollars. Yes, with a "b". Sell part of the team. They need $125 million? That's a bit more than 10%. Sure, it dilutes equity. It will depend on how badly they are interested in it to see how much they are willing to give up to get it. I have no problem with them doing so, as this could deepen their ties to the region without asking for more handouts that will affect everyone in the region.
Consider that at $125 million, that's 1250 people contributing $100 thousand each. Assuming my math is right, of course. Issue "b" shares, similar to Berkshire Hathaway if you like, and you don't want them to get a vote. That way they get to share in the team, and perhaps more importantly, the team gets to share in their money.
Sell cheaper shares, like in Green Bay if you want. Whatever the course of action, it doesn't really matter, unless the team is just out for the money - in that case, we'll see soon enough.