$650 million without a roof? Why we won’t see one at renovated Bank of America Stadium

With good weather and a price tag nearly as large as proposed renovations, a roof isn’t an attractive option for Bank of America Stadium, according to Tepper Sports & Entertainment and city of Charlotte officials.

Tepper Sports & Entertainment earlier this month unveiled plans for the largest and most expensive renovation yet to the home of the Carolina Panthers and Major League Soccer’s Charlotte FC. The ownership group is requesting $650 million from the city of Charlotte to make it happen, and the City Council is expected to vote on the funding Monday.

The proposed renovations include new seats, a new outdoor gathering area and a large video screen on the stadium’s exterior — but no dome or retractable roof. The plan also doesn’t include a partial covering for people sitting in the stands, something some facilities such as Hard Rock Stadium in Miami added in recent years.

Partial coverings and roofs are common for venues chosen to host major sports championships.

In comments submitted to the city online on the plan, people questioned the plan, citing a desire to see Charlotte land more marquee events and create a more comfortable fan experience during harsh weather.

“For $800 million, a roof should be included to allow the city to host Super Bowls and college football national title games. Otherwise, it’s just lipstick,” one respondent wrote.

But Tepper Sports and local leaders say they’re confident the stadium can continue to comfortably host football games and concerts and compete for major events without a covering.

“This renovation is about modernizing the stadium to deliver elevated experiences while preserving the overall character and location that fans have known and loved for decades,” a Tepper Sports spokesperson said.

Why Bank of America Stadium isn’t getting a dome

Tepper Sports cited Charlotte’s climate as a reason why renovation plans don’t include adding a dome or retractable roof to the stadium.

“We have a beautiful, traditional stadium that has been a beloved landmark in Uptown for nearly 30 years. One of the best things about Bank of America Stadium is that you are able to experience the beautiful weather while enjoying the action on the field and pitch,” a Tepper Sports spokesperson told The Charlotte Observer.

Assistant City Manager Tracy Dodson told City Council members at a June 10 meeting she talked to Tepper Sports “several years ago” about adding a roof and found doing so would cost “several hundred million dollars.”

“It is an incredibly costly venture,” she said.

David Abrams, an investment banker who advises the city on sports-related issues, said at the same meeting it’s difficult to estimate the cost of adding a roof to an existing stadium. A fixed roof on a new stadium today costs about $500-$600 million, he said.

City Council member Malcolm Graham, who chairs the council’s economic development committee, said Tepper Sports made the decision that taking on the cost of a roof “was not the direction that they wanted to go.”

“Obviously our funds are limited, and so it really fit into our sweet spot in terms of affordability,” he said of the plan the ownership group presented to the city.

NFL Draft, Super Bowl, Final Four in Charlotte?

Roof or not, Graham said the planned renovations to the stadium will put Charlotte “in line to secure big events” such as international soccer matches, a Super Bowl and the NFL Draft.

“We have to be comfortable with who we are, and I’m comfortable with Charlotte and our ability to lure events. And hopefully the improvements to the stadium, if it’s approved, will give us yet another step forward,” he said.

Bank of America Stadium has hosted a wider array of events in recent years, including a Beyonce concert in 2023 and two Copa América soccer matches later this summer. But Charlotte has never hosted a Super Bowl or a College Football Playoff title game, and its last NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four happened in 1994 at the Charlotte Coliseum.

Every men’s Final Four since 1997 has been at an enclosed professional sports facility — all but one in an NFL stadium. That trend will continue through at least 2030.

Two of the next three Super Bowl sites have a dome or retractable roof, and 15 of the last 24 Super Bowls occurred in domes or stadiums with retractable roofs. The majority of college football national title games have been played in covered NFL stadiums, too, since the College Football Playoff formed in 2015.

Charlotte tourism leaders on roof

Asked whether not having a covering hurts Charlotte when bidding for big events, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority said it’s “not commenting on specific aspects” of Tepper Sports’ plan but fully supports the proposal.

“Through strategic partnerships, we strive to position Charlotte as one of the world’s premier urban landscapes. Bank of America Stadium is more than just a sports venue; it is a vital part of our city’s identity and a significant attraction for visitors, driving urban growth by attracting investment and stimulating development,” CRVA spokesperson Sherri Belfield said in a statement.

Charlotte has what it takes to host a Super Bowl at least once based on its current plan, according to Vinay Patel, local hotel owner and Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority board member.

“I’ll be blunt. I don’t think this city with an outdoor stadium is ever going to be on a Super Bowl rotation ... It’s going to be the New Orleanses of the world, the Floridas of the world,” Patel said at a June 12 City Council meeting. “But we have the opportunity to go get it at least once after this … We have everything we need that the NFL would look for.”

In our CLT Politics newsletter, we offer exclusive insight into Charlotte-region politics sent to your inbox on Thursdays. Subscribe for free. Story idea?