Former Panthers QB Cam Newton loves stadium renovations, but says they need one thing

On his 4th & 1 podcast, former Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton said he’s a big fan of a proposed redesign of Bank of America Stadium in uptown Charlotte. But he doesn’t think the plan will work unless the Panthers’ owner, billionaire David Tepper, improves his relationship with local residents.

“None of this (going to work),” Newton said, “if (Tepper) isn’t at one with the city.”

Tepper is asking Charlotte taxpayers to fork over $650 million toward the stadium renovations, while his company, Tepper Sports & Entertainment, would ultimately pay $688 million. Charlotte residents have largely been against using public money in the deal.

Newton thinks the project can only work if Tepper can change public perception about himself in town. And so far, Tepper’s history in Charlotte has been, at best, mixed.

While he’s brought Major League Soccer here and opened up the stadium for big concerts from performers like Beyoncé and Garth Brooks, Tepper’s football team has burned through seven head coaches in six seasons and hasn’t had a winning season — or made the playoffs — since he bought it in 2018.

And Tepper’s had some notable incidents recently, including throwing a drink towards some fans at a game in Jacksonville, angering people in Rock Hill by pulling out of a practice facility deal — and a recent run-in at a local restaurant, where Tepper entered mad about a sign out front.

Newton said Tepper needs to make amends for all of that kind of stuff, particularly when you’re asking taxpayers for well north of half a billion dollars.

“I don’t care how much money you got and I don’t care how much money you’re asking for,” Newton said, “but if you’re not at one with the city, it’s not going to work. It’s not. Take it for what it’s worth.”

On the podcast, Newton watched a video that the Panthers put out showing illustrations of what the renovation would look like, including:

New seats in the lower bowl.

Improved access for people with disabilities; upgraded restrooms and mechanical systems.

Improved lighting and other safety and security enhancements.

A “re-imagined” area on the South Lawn Pavilion that could used as a gathering spot or an outdoor classroom.

Newton, perhaps the best player in team history, said he is a big fan of all of it.

“That looks phenomenal,” he said. “Obviously, Charlotte has been yearning to be the marquee destination for bigger events. Every city wants to have the Super Bowl potentially come there....That looks like an ultimate fan experience. All for it.”

Then Newton laughed and dropped his head, acknowledging his original point, that Tepper needed to improve his relationship with the city to make it happen.

“But you know you are,” Newton said with a grin. “You gotta tap in.”