ROCK HILL, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Weeks on from the Carolina Panthers project halt, and just days since the agreement with the City of Rock Hill over the practice facility, there are still questions on what exactly led to the impasse and what will be next.
On Thursday, a meeting with City Council members over the city’s budget led to a chance for Queen City News to speak with local leaders about the status of the project, because a lot of the blame has been put on Rock Hill itself.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to hold it together, maybe see if the Panthers can still come here,” said council member Derrick Lindsay.
Lindsay spoke briefly at the end of Thursday’s budget meeting. While nothing on the table with the budget dealt with the Panthers practice facility, discussions have centered for weeks on the core issue between Rock Hill and the Carolina Panthers–money.
“I think we’ve been very forthcoming with contractual issues and everything we’re supposed to do,” said Lindsay.
Tepper Sports and Entertainment said the project halt came as a result of a failure on the part of the City of Rock Hill, surrounding $225 million in bonds that had not been issued. Rock Hill said at a recent meeting that they were “weeks away” from issuing the bonds, which TSE had said were already a year late.
TSE said they had spent $170 million on the project so far, which is still only partially built.
County leaders said Rock Hill’s credit rating may have led to the inability for the bonds to be issued for the project.
During budget discussions Thursday, city representatives touted their credit rating as good. City manager David Vehaun said, despite reports to the contrary, Rock Hill is in good financial shape.
When asked to comment on the status of discussions with the Carolina Panthers, Vehaun referred Queen City News to a statement that was released by the City of Rock Hill earlier this week, which said, in part, that Rock Hill was willing to come to the table and re-negotiate the terms of the Panthers project deal.
There are no clear indications yet on whether discussions have restarted.