In an article from Pro Football Talk today, Darin Gantt reported that if Panthers owner Jerry Richardson were to be interested in selling the team he may already have a potential buyer lined up. The buyer is none other than Bruton Smith, the NASCAR magnate with ties to the Charlotte area.
In a radio interview today, Smith said:
"Do you think he’s interested in selling? ... I have not approached him. If the price is right, yeah, I’d be interested."
And, in an apparent jab at Richardson, Smith said he:
"would commit to the city, and I would not ask them for any money...
So let's get this straight because it's important: Bruton Smith wants to buy the Panthers, and he would be such a good guy about it that he wouldn't ask the city for a single cent when doing it. Well, isn't that a nice gesture? I mean, he's always been such a great citizen who's always willing to keep local businesses strong by ensuring money constantly flows into the city of Charlotte and her surrounding areas.
Personally, I think it would be a great move for Richardson to sell. Smith is only 86 years old, so he should have a few good years left in him. Plus, he's such a stand up guy. I could ramble on for days about the good things Smith has done for the Carolinas, but to keep this from turning into a 4000 word column, I'll just highlight my two favorite Bruton Smith stories.
Does anyone remember the time Smith threatened the city of Concord by saying that if they didn't let him build a drag strip on the outskirts of Charlotte Motor Speedway that he would shut the track down and build it elsewhere? Of course, this wouldn't cost the city a penny, but what it would do was prevent the city from making the millions of dollars it generated from having the track there. That seems fair to me. I mean, if you're not willing to give Bruton everything he wants then he'll just take his bat and ball and go home.
While the Concord incident is a good story to tell, my favorite Bruton Smith memory is the time he went in halfsies with Bob Bahre and bought North Wilkesboro Speedway so they could boost the local economy by shutting it down and moving the track's two races to Texas and New Hampshire. North Wilkesboro is such a booming metropolis that it didn't need that much money flowing in, right? It's better to share that money with poor urban areas who need it like Fort Worth, Texas. Thanks to Smith's efforts, now the entire state of Texas finally has marketing opportunities and money flowing in because he was a nice enough guy to share some of North Carolina's wealth and tradition by shutting down the race track in North Wilkesboro.
So yeah, I'm sure that Smith would be the nice billionaire who comes in and buys the Panthers without asking for any of our money, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the instant the city refused to give him something he wanted he would pick up the team and move them so fast it would make our heads spin.
But hey, that would be okay wouldn't it? I mean, at least it wouldn't cost us any money.