ROCK HILL, S.C. — The new home of the Carolina Panthers’ state-of-the-art team headquarters and practice facility is beginning to take shape.
Just over the South Carolina state line in Rock Hill, steel support beams are emerging from the ground on a rocky, dusty 240-acre plot of land. Dug-up boulders have been cast into a huge pile, construction vehicles scurry about and large cranes hoist metal beams into place on a site that the workers call “The Rock” because the architectural design of the building was meant to depict the image of a rock jutting out of the ground.
The prized idea of Panthers billionaire owner David Tepper, the entire project (including added highway infrastructure) is approaching $800 million in public and private money to build and is expected to rival that of the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, arguably the best team headquarters in the NFL, when it is completed in 2023.
“The Rock” will host all of the team’s offices and training/locker room facilities, along with three outdoor grass practice fields, one indoor artificial field and another outdoor artificial field that is part of a 5,000-seat multipurpose stadium that can be used to host high school football and soccer games, concerts, car shows and more.
So, while the Panthers will continue to play home games at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, everything else club-related will be at “The Rock,” including practices and training camp.
Mark Hart, vice president and chief operating office of the Panthers and Tepper Sports Entertainment, said the facility is designed to help the Panthers win a Super Bowl.
“The Rock is primarily for the Carolina Panthers to be more efficient and gain a competitive edge, keep players and attract players, and have the best coaching staff and the best facilities,” Hart said. “When David Tepper got here, I think he said whatever the other teams have, we don’t have. Well, we have flipped the narrative.”
When Tepper took over as the team’s owner in 2018, the Panthers didn’t have an indoor practice facility.
After the headquarters are complete, there will still be about 75 acres of available land on the property tagged for hotels, retail shops, restaurants, office buildings, residential living and a premier medical facility, along with bike and walking paths.
That means there will be plenty of people mingling around — even during practice.
Hart said while that may create some angst for Panthers coaches who may prefer secrecy, it was important for Tepper that fans “feel connected” to the team and have a place to work, live and play.
“We don’t want this to be a NSA cybersecurity lockdown place,” Hart said.
Hart said the Panthers hope to attract people not only from the Southeast but all around the country to visit.
The 600,000-square-foot structure is five stories high and will include 8,875 total tons of structural steel, more than 75 miles of PVC conduit, 2.5 million feet of wire and 4,145 light fixtures. There are more than 340 workers on site, but those numbers will increase to 800 at maximum workforce, and the team is using 118 area firms as part of the project.
Carolina trades Perryman to Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders got help at their banged-up linebacker spot by acquiring Denzel Perryman from the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday in a swap of draft picks.
The Raiders will send a 2022 sixth-round pick to Carolina and get a seventh-rounder that year and Perryman back in the deal that will be official once Perryman passes a physical.
The Raiders needed help at linebacker after losing both starter Nicholas Morrow (foot) and backup Javin White (knee) last week to injuries. Coach Jon Gruden said Wednesday that both players were likely “going to be out for a while” with Morrow’s injury more serious.
Darron Lee was placed on IR on Tuesday and Nick Kwiatkoski has also been sidelined. But Kwiatkoski is expected to return to practice next week and be ready for the start of the season along with healthy starter Cory Littleton.
That left the Raiders counting on rookie Divine Deablo and untested Tanner Muse to step in at linebacker so they decided to add Perryman instead. Muse missed all of his rookie season in 2020 on injured reserve.
Perryman has been dealing with his own injury issues this summer and was sent out of Carolina after practicing only once in training camp.
Perryman had been sidelined by a hip flexor injury for all of training camp before returning on Monday. But then a teammate stepped on his foot and he has missed the past two practices. He has been replaced as a starter by Jermaine Carter and now is out despite signing a two-year, $6 million contract in the offseason.
Perryman has a history with new Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, having spent the past four seasons together with the Chargers.
The Chargers selected Perryman in the second round in 2015 and he was a dependable insider linebacker for them the past six years. He had 349 tackles, 26 tackles for loss and five sacks in 69 career games.