The Carolina Panthers have been sold to American businessman David Tepper for an estimated $2.2 billion (£1.7bn) – the largest amount ever paid for an American sports team. Previous owner Mark Richardson, who founded the Panthers in 1995, released a farewell message yesterday, in which he wished Tepper all the best for the future and assured fans that the team would be in good hands going forward.
Jerry Richardson’s various indiscretions became a source of huge embarrassment for the Carolina Panthers during the 2017 season, yet when it was announced that the franchise was to be sold before the start of the 2018 season, fans were cautious of what a change of owner could mean for the future of their beloved team. When David Tepper emerged as the Panthers most likely suitor, there were big questions over his plans for minority partnership, potential staff changes, and indeed, whether he would attempt to move the team elsewhere. Now that the purchase has been completed however, Tepper’s main concern seems to lay solely on the Panthers future success.
“I am thrilled to begin this new era of Carolina Panthers football and am humbled by the overwhelming excitement and support for the team,” Tepper said in an official statement. “On behalf of the fans and myself, I thank (former owner) Jerry Richardson for bringing the team to the Carolinas and for entrusting me with its future.
“Winning is the most important thing both on the field and in the community and I am committed to winning a Super Bowl championship together.”
Tepper is said to have a combined net worth of over $11 billion, and was formerly a minority stake holder in the Pittsburg Steelers. The hedge fund billionaire is rumoured to have beat out a number of high profile bidders, and was unanimously approved by the 31 NFL franchise owners during a meeting in May.
Tepper met with the Panthers team captains, veteran players and staff at the Bank of America Stadium earlier this week, as well as removing his 5% stake in the Steelers.
“David will be a good owner,” said Steelers owner Art Rooney II. “I’m excited for him to be a part of the league. He has great passion for the game of football … loves the game. He came from Pittsburgh, what else can you ask for?”