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March 07, 2013

Report: Leaked documents show Panthers made $112 million profit in two years

UPDATE (9:45 p.m.): The Panthers issued a statement on their website saying the report offered an incomplete picture of the team's profitability. The statement is reprinted in full at the end of this post.

Less than a week after the Carolina Panthers ownership was denied state funding to renovate its stadium, detailed organization financial documents were leaked to the sports blog Deadspin.com.

An independent auditors’ report by Charlotte’s Deloitte & Touche LLP shows the Panthers brought in an operating profit of $112 million from March 2010-March 2012.

From March 2010-March 2011, the organization recorded a profit of $78.7 million. The following year, the Panthers made $33.3 million.

The $112 million profits the Panthers and owner/founder Jerry Richardson recorded over those two years show that business was good for the team despite a combined 8-24 record during those two seasons.

The document, a 28-page PDF hosted on Deadspin.com, shows revenue generated from game receipts, TV and radio deals, personal seat licenses, stadium naming rights and more.

Operating profits were cut by more than half from 2011 to 2012 largely due to the Panthers spending more money on their players in the offseason following the lockout.

Who leaked the document or how Deadspin.com obtained it is unclear, but the NFL is well-known for keeping its financials under wraps. Because of that, how the organization's profits stack up against the other 31 teams in the league is difficult to measure.

The document shows the Panthers made $98 million in “local” revenue and $155 million from the league in 2012. 

But the timing of the leak is paramount. Panthers ownership has recently asked for more than $200 million from local and state funds to help renovate the 17-year-old Bank of America Stadium.

Last month, the city agreed to give the franchise $144 million, but earlier in the week Governor Pat McCrory declined the Panthers’ request for $62.5 million, saying the state did not have the money to address the issue.

Here's the Panthers' response on their official team website:

The Deadspin story presents an incomplete picture of the Carolina Panthers profitability. The figures offer an isolated snapshot of the team’s financial situation during an unusual time as the NFL lockout loomed.

At the time, the team had strategically reduced its spending because of the uncertainty and as part of a long-term plan to secure the team's best talent once a collective bargaining agreement had been reached. 

The team's actual operating cash flow, even before federal and state tax payments were made, was significantly less than the accounting income reported in the story. The most meaningful reflection of a company's profitability is cash flow, and the team's operating cash flow fluctuated between pre-tax figures of $26.7M in fiscal year 2011 and $39.8M in fiscal year 2012.

A detailed review of the financial statements demonstrates the difficulty of being competitive in the NFL, paying players to the cap, and trying to add the financing of a major stadium renovation.


--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on March 7, 2013 at 05:46 PM | Permalink


Remember, one of those years Richardson gave up on the team, spent no money, and went 1-15. I was a season ticket holder then, but just threw in the towel. They fielded a minor league team, and charged major league prices. And this guy wants taxpayers to pay for stadium updates? You have got to be kidding.

Posted by: Peter | Mar 7, 2013 6:01:38 PM

Jerry- you do have to pay for them- and the confirmation that you are a crook is out in the open-- write the check or take your team and go away--- far far away--

Posted by: Netranger | Mar 7, 2013 6:07:02 PM

Who wants to be me this kills the deal? Anyone got plans to watch the L.A. Panthers play ball?

Posted by: Sam Vimes | Mar 7, 2013 6:07:16 PM

Sorry - forget the "t" in "bet" above.

Posted by: Sam Vimes | Mar 7, 2013 6:07:46 PM

Someone questioned me calling him a coward the other day. Any "man" who makes tens of millions of dollars a year and wants the taxpayer to fund his business costs IS A COWARD AND A THIEF! This man deserves my anger and disgust, and every sports fan and taxpayer should feel the same. He is less than zero!

Posted by: SkinTheFatRat | Mar 7, 2013 6:09:27 PM

Also know the team pays no IRS taxs none of the NFL has to pay IRS taxs and I bet they pay no state taxs also.

Posted by: Tom Hall | Mar 7, 2013 6:18:43 PM

nobody should be mad about them asking for money from the city.

it IS a free market, and there are other cities that would offer them a lot more than 144 million to relocate should they choose to. not to mention them building the original stadium without tax dollars.

this is the same city that just spend what? 20-40 million on AAA baseball?!

put it in perspective. it's not about him asking for tax payer money, it's about the tax payer's representatives paying them to stay.

how much did met life get to relocate jobs? I bet they got a good bunch of incentives just like chiquita and other companies have. it's standard practice for government to pay to play.

Posted by: charlottean | Mar 7, 2013 6:19:06 PM

Making millions of dollars by building a team on unhappy weekends of Charlotteans? Strange. Still demanding taxpayers' money for upgrading the stadium? Stranger.

Posted by: Terry the Turk | Mar 7, 2013 6:21:16 PM

Strangely I feel a ticket hike comming on

Posted by: Dan | Mar 7, 2013 6:32:05 PM

I understand free market. I want Jerry to understand he is free to leave anytime he wants. It works both ways.

Posted by: UHaveToBeKiddingMe | Mar 7, 2013 6:33:40 PM


Posted by: Steve | Mar 7, 2013 7:17:04 PM

And many of you that are ok with team leaving are natives and not idiot transplants.
What a$$ had to leak this , some group from LA paid someone to leak it?

Posted by: 10-4!! | Mar 7, 2013 7:19:07 PM

As a PSL Owner, Adios Amigos!!!

Posted by: Sam | Mar 7, 2013 7:34:35 PM

If I hear one more dumb comment about LA Im going to SCREAAAAAAAAAAM!!! Panthers arent going anywhere!!! At the end of the day the Panthers will get the money they're asking for either from the STATE or Charlotte!!!! Watch!! It will happen!!!!!

Posted by: Big Daddy | Mar 7, 2013 7:37:00 PM

k! Big Daddy enlighten us. So! because you say so?

Posted by: 10-4!! | Mar 7, 2013 7:43:18 PM

heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

Ive always said JR was nothing more than a greedy hillbilly Hitler. This report proves that theory.

Stupid greedy hillbilly redneck republicans

heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh

Posted by: stupid republicans | Mar 7, 2013 7:49:38 PM

It should and will happen....all you haters are preppers and will be living under ground in a year or two ayway and I'll be at games like always. Rightwing weenies who hate everything but guns.

Posted by: Big Bad John | Mar 7, 2013 7:51:01 PM

Before you condemn Jerry Richardson it would be nice to see what other teams had in profits as well. Maybe the Panther profits are low compared to other teams. And just remember he is like any other owner, he is out to make money, just like you and I would if we were him.

Posted by: vapanther | Mar 7, 2013 7:51:41 PM

This just goes to show you how cheap this man really is. 2 times in the past 3 years Jerry has declined to fire a coach just because he didn't want to pay for 2 head coaches at once.

Rivera would cost him 2.8 million for the next 2 seasons. That is chump change when you look at this. This isn't the same man that declared we would win a super bowl in our first 10 years. I don't know who this man is.

Posted by: jason | Mar 7, 2013 8:07:38 PM

LA obviously is left "vacant" by the league, by design in order to pressure NFL cities to fund upgrades. Pay up or we move.

Posted by: Bill | Mar 7, 2013 8:08:17 PM

Let's look at who is most interested and how they should bear the burden of funding.

Richardson-most interested. The Panthers franchise generated $200 million PROFIT in 2 years. Put some back into your privately-owned business.

PSL Holders-most interested. Assess each holder an amount based on the value of their license;

Fans-most interested. Raise ticket prices as another source of revenue;

TV & radio-most interested. Raise the price of allowing them to broadcast the games;

Stadium namers-most interested. It should cost more to have your corporate name associated with everything the Panthers do.

Mecklenburg Taxpayers-least interested. We don't want to pay a penny in this economic climate to a private business that generates these kind of profits during a recession. If our illustrious local leaders do decide to spend our tax money, do we get a share in the ownership of the stadium that we are upgrading? What percentage of the value of the stadium and land will we receive? How about profit-sharing? What's the incentive for us to allow any of our money to be spent here? None that I can see!

Posted by: Shaggist | Mar 7, 2013 8:17:56 PM

The numbers in the report do not look correct.

Example, naming rights is shown as $3.59 million. BOA signed a 20 year, $140 million contract, that would be $7million a year.

The Green Bay Packers are publicly held, and thus must release their financial numbers each year. These are quite revealing, since things like national TV revenue and global merchandising are shared equally. These same numbers do no add up the same on the Panthers' statement.

Packers' numbers can be seen here:


National TV contracts with FOX, CBS, NBC, ESPN, and Direct TV total almost $7 billion, over $200 million per team, and these documents only show $107 million.

Come on Observer, I did 15 minutes of Googling, you can spend some time and find out what the Panthers really make.

Posted by: Ghoul | Mar 7, 2013 8:18:31 PM

Seriously, who is leaking this?? IS it the same person who gave Silver the inside scoop on the owners meeting a few years back?

What good does it do to leak this? I've been watching "House of Cards" too much, but I swear it could be Francis Underwood.

Posted by: Ray Finkle | Mar 7, 2013 8:29:35 PM

Obsession with Sports and Entertainment -The Roman poet Juvenal (circa 100 A.D.) wrote regarding the way latter-day Roman emperors retained power and control over the masses that were seemingly more than happy to obsess themselves with trivialities and self-indulgences while their once-great-and-powerful empire collapsed before their very eyes. He wrote:

“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions–everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.” (Wikipedia) (LINK)

Many American men have allowed sports to control and dominate their lives. With many, sports are not just a hobby; they are a religion. When men stripped their shirts off and painted their faces, they were heading to the battlefield to kill their enemies. Now they are headed off to the sports coliseum to watch a football game. A man’s ego and machismo was once used to protect his family and freedom; now it’s used to follow batting averages and box scores.

Scholars are generally consistent in noting that one of the factors in the “Fall” of Rome was the Roman obsession with entertainment and consequent loss of civic duty.

Posted by: NO SPORTS | Mar 7, 2013 8:30:04 PM

as a die hard panther fan i must say... we have the worst fan base in the nfl. too many people from ohio and new york that have opinions on a team they could careless about.go back!!

Posted by: jay | Mar 7, 2013 8:40:14 PM

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