Panthers visit State House, some senators not convinced on bill

Panthers visit State House, some senators not convinced on bill

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Carolina Panthers met with Governor Henry McMaster and lawmakers Thursday.

A bill that would create incentives and tax credits for a professional sports team in South Carolina is making its way through the State House.

Head Coach Ron Rivera, a few players and their mascot “Sir Purr” were at the State House to be honored in the House and Senate. The Professional Sports Team Investment Act passed the House last month, but some Senators want to pump the brakes on the bill, asking for more information before they make up their minds.

Coach Rivera said this move would give the team a chance to build an indoor practice facility they really need. “Mr. Tepper and his team are doing a tremendous amount of work to get an understanding and feel for what it would mean for us to come here for both North and South Carolina. It’s a really good opportunity to come here to shake some hands and meet some folks.”

Senator Dick Harpootlian (D-Richland), along with other Senators, said they haven’t made up their mind yet on the bill.

On Monday, Governor Henry McMaster sent all Senators a letter with a benefit analysis of the Panthers move to York County. Sen. Harpootlian said he’s concerned with the $40 million investment from the state to improve I-77. “Do we spend it on an interchange so the Panthers can get to their practice field? Or do we spend over in Lexington County or Malfunction Junction or Charleston where people are desperate to get on the interstate to go to work in the morning?”

Sen. Harpootlian hired his own personal economist to crunch some numbers. According to the Department of Commerce, the 15-year economic benefit of the move for South Carolina would be about $3.8 billion.

Sen. Harpootlian’s report said that number is $1.1 billion. “There’s a big swing there. Before we start spending tens of millions of dollars of our money. We need answers to that. Again, I haven’t committed to voting against or for it. I just don’t know what the numbers are.”

Until he gets those numbers, the Senator said he will continue blocking debate on the bill.

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