CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Even though the start of the NFL season is still months away, several Carolina Panthers fans met at Taproom Social in uptown Charlotte for a special gathering Thursday night. The Roaring Riot, a Panthers fan club, organized the event.
Carmen Murphy, a Panthers season ticket holder, was one of the many fans in attendance.
"We love our Panther football so much that we really need to be able to get together and talk about the team and just get pumped up for the next season," said Murphy.
Murphy said she was initially nervous when billionaire David Tepper purchased the team. She feared the franchise could be moved to another city.
"I was like please don't move the team. I just invested in this team. It's the only team I've ever loved so I was like please don't take them away from me," explained Murphy.
Tepper hasn't moved the team, but he is making changes. The team owner and several lawmakers officially ushered in a new era for the Panthers Wednesday as South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed the Panthers Bill. The legislation gives tax breaks to professional sports teams that move to South Carolina. Under the legislation, the Panthers could receive up to $115 million dollars in tax breaks over the next 15 years. The Panthers are planning to move their headquarters and practice facilities to South Carolina.
"I don't mind the move to South Carolina. It's not that far away and I think it's a good move for the Panthers because it does bring the Carolinas together," said Murphy.
Other fans at Thursday's event agreed that moving the team headquarters to South Carolina is a good call.
"It's gonna incorporate both states so it's two states, one team," said fan Chris Neal.
Former Panthers player Mike Fox was also at Thursday's event and spoke with WBTV about the relocation.
"When we came here in '95, we actually started practicing down there at Winthrop University so now it's like, we started down there, we came up here, now we're going back down there for a little bit so I can understand the beauty of it," elaborated Fox.
Veteran Charlotte Observer sports columnist Scott Fowler said the South Carolina move should keep the Panthers in the Carolinas longterm.
"You don't build a facility like that and spend millions of dollars on it and then move. You're not gonna move," said Fowler.
He said some elected leaders in Charlotte probably would have liked to have seen everything about the team stay in Charlotte, but now the entire region will benefit from the Panthers.
“(Tepper) asked for and campaigned for and finally got the $115 million in incentives here,” said Fowler. “He’s a billionaire for a reason and he’s running a business and this is good business, I think, for the Panthers.”
It has not been announced where the Panthers new South Carolina headquarters will be located.