At a time when Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was a vocal, hardline owner favoring lockouts to “take back our league,” the franchise was actually making more than $100 million in profit according to a Deadspin report.
The report cites a leaked team audited financial statement obtained by Deadspin for the years ending March 31, 2011, and March 31, 2012.
Over the first period, as Richardson argued that the NFL’s business model was hopelessly broken and steered the owners toward a showdown to extract more money from the players, the Panthers recorded an operating profit of $78.7 million. The team had gone 2-14 on the field, but Richardson and his partners were able to pay themselves $12 million.
Over the following year, after the owners had won their lockout and reduced the players’ share of league revenue from 50 percent to 47 percent, the Panthers brought in $33.3 million in operating profit. Richardson began lobbying for public subsidies to renovate his 17-year-old stadium. The team went 6-10.
Professional sports franchises are reluctant to publicly open their books. Duringcollective bargaining in 2011, the NFL Players Association repeatedly asked team owners to reveal their financials, only to be denied. Union execs question teams’ lack of true financial transparency with details such as stadium deals that can so easily be hidden.
Deadspin’s report could put a crimp in the Panthers’ current campaign to obtain favorable public funding toward upgrading Bank of America Stadium. While the city of Charlotte appears willing to help with funds, North Carolina governor Pat McCrory is among state politicians saying there are no funds to be had.