South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster called Wednesday a big day for South Carolina. One team, two states–that was the motto for the day as hundreds of people were in Rock Hill to see Governor McMaster put his signature on legislation necessary in order for the Carolina Panthers to call South Carolina home.
Fountain Park in downtown Rock Hill was a sea of black and blue as dozens of Carolina Panthers’ fans rooted on their new home team.
Billy Dunlap, president of Visit York County said, “Who would have thought we would have had this many people to welcome the Panthers to Rock Hill. It’s a good day to be a part of Rock Hill, a part of York County and a part of the state.”
The Carolina Panthers will now be crossing the border and calling South Carolina home after Governor McMaster signed a law defining a professional sports team, “two states, one team. And this will create a lot of interest, a lot more people going to the football games and having this practice facility which is so much more it’s actually a destination.”
That practice facility is part of the deal. The state is offering $115 million in tax credits and incentives for related businesses that open up shop in the state’s poorest counties. In return for the Panthers relocating its headquarters and building practice and medical facilities in York county.
Sandra Oborokumo of the Rock Hill city council explained, “I’m expecting more development, more growth, more jobs, mostly jobs an opportunity for housing developments so people can afford it with those job opportunities for all of those people who will benefit from the Carolina Panthers and what it will bring to the state.”
Right now the team has a strong presence in Spartanburg where the yearly training camp is held but this move to Rock Hill has had many questioning the team’s future in the upstate but Panthers owner David Tepper addressed those concerns.
“One way or another whether it’s fan fest or whatever we are going to be there too we are not going to give up on people who have been our friends and our fans. So that’s how we are going to roll.”
The plan also calls for a $40 million interchange added to I-77 to support the expected increase in traffic
even though the legislation received overwhelming support several lawmakers were not on board with the proposal.
Many of the lawmakers against the idea were from the upstate and argued that other professional teams in the state have not received the breaks the Panthers will be getting with this deal.
The NFL team is expected to break ground in 2020 with the plans of moving in and using the facility in 2022.