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Council Quickies: Residents Address Council About Stadium Upgrades

June 17, 2024

A rendering shows the South Lawn outside of Bank of America Stadium post-renovation
A rendering shows the South Lawn outside of Bank of America Stadium after upgrades. (Courtesy of Tepper Sports & Entertainment)

Charlotte City Council met for a special meeting at 3 p.m. on Monday afternoon to give the public a chance to address them about the recently announced plan to renovate Bank of America Stadium, which would include a $650-million investment from the city. 

The meeting preceded the regularly scheduled zoning meeting, during which council made decisions on a number of controversial petitions that had been presented to them in recent months. 

On the Agenda:

  • Public Hearing on Stadium Upgrades
  • Zoning Decisions

Public Hearing on Stadium Upgrades

The first few speakers during Monday afternoon’s hearing were leaders with the local business community who spoke in support of the proposal, including Joe Bost with the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, Michael Smith with Charlotte Center City Partners and Danny Morrison with the Charlotte Sports Foundation. 

Felix Godward, the owner of Valhalla Pub & Eatery inside Brevard Court spoke in support of the proposal, though he asked that council also spend money on infrastructure surrounding the stadium as they spend to improve the stadium itself.

The first resident to speak in opposition to the plan said there is no tangible financial benefit for members of the public. “That’s not an investment, that’s a shakedown.”

Another resident speaking against the plan said council has not been transparent in this process and raised questions about behind-the-scenes planning that has led to such insistence on a June 24 voting date. Her petition opposing the plan has more than 490 signatures.

One resident voicing her concerns with the plan asked that the city be more forthcoming with details about the plan, including what safeguards the city will put in place to prevent David Tepper from backing out of the plan as he did in Rock Hill.

Former Panthers WR Muhsin Muhammad, now a partner with Axum Capital Partners, spoke in favor of the plan as a way to cultivate the continued growth of the city.

“Tepper wants free money without sacrificing anything, don’t just hand it to him,” said one resident, who asked that council use its leverage to gain some benefits from the deal. “[Tepper] isn’t looking for a partner, he’s looking for a patsy.”

Sebastian Feculak with the Ironworkers Association asked that the city ensure that Tepper Sports & Entertainment (TSE) hires back the construction workers who were left out of work when TSE pulled out of the Rock Hill facility without warning.

One woman gave an impassioned plea for council to stop giving money to people who already have it. “Beyoncé thought the stadium was fine. If it’s good enough for Beyoncé, it’s good enough for half the city.” She closed by asking council if they care about the middle class.

Joseph Margolis said the city is being taken advantage of as a mark. He said the investment could be beneficial to many but needs to be handled with care by council. 

Zoning Decisions

The first zoning decision of the night has been a contentious one in south Charlotte, where neighbors were bused in from the Piper Glen area in March to voice their opposition to a mixed-use development would include up to 640 units spread amongst a variety of housing types. Staff did not recommend approval of the petition as it was presented in March suggesting that developers bring the total number of units down below 500.

A rendering of the proposed Piper Glen development.

Neighbors had wanted to preserve the land due in part to a nearby nest that is home to two bald eagles, but district rep Ed Driggs on Monday said that wasn’t a feasible option. 

Driggs worked out a compromise that cut the number of units included in the proposed development from 640 homes to 566, of which 450 will be multi-family units. The petition was approved unanimously.

Next was an equally contentious proposed development in Elizabeth that was nearly killed when council voted against it in May but came back with changes on Monday night. The complex will include 175 units (down from the original plan for 213). 

A rendering of the proposed development on East 7th Street.

Dimple Ajmera and Reee Johnson said that, despite their earlier opposition to the petition, which is located on East 7th Street between Clement & Lamar avenues, they now support it. LaWana Mayfield said she would vote against it, citing her concerns that longtime neighborhood residents will not benefit from it.

As a “fee in lieu” payment to justify exceeding the maximum height requirements, the petitioner agreed to make a $132,439.50 contribution to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund if the petition is approved.

That petition was approved, with Mayfield casting the only No vote.

With council ready to vote on the Carolina Panthers’ proposal to redevelop and expand on their existing practice facilities, with renderings showing large indoor and outdoor practice areas that include a viewing porch for fans to watch the team, a team rep announced some changes to the petition that were made in response to community feedback. 

The changes included a widening of the pedestrian path that runs through the property to accommodate the Uptown Cycle Link project. That petition was approved unanimously. 

Council will meet again for a business meeting on June 24, when they’re expected to vote on the proposed plan to upgrade the stadium.

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