In one way, Jerry Richardson will never leave the Panthers.
The team’s founder finalized the sale of the franchise to David Tepper Monday for nearly $2.3 billion. He was selling the Panthers because a Sports Illustrated report uncovered confidential payouts for alleged workplace misconduct that included sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur, which sparked an investigation by the NFL that concluded with Richardson getting fined $2.75 million.
On Tuesday, Tepper held his introductory press conference as the team’s new owner and announced that one of the most prominent and now-infamous parts of Bank of America Stadium is here to stay: the 13-foot statue of Jerry Richardson.
“I’m contractually obligated to keep that statue as it is,” Tepper said to close the press conference.
Located outside the north gate of the stadium, the statue depicts Richardson holding out a football in his left hand while flanked by two panthers, one on either side of him. Richardson brought the team to Charlotte in 1995 and resided as owner for its first 23 seasons of existence.
The Miami Marlins found themselves in a somewhat similar situation last year regarding a piece of stadium art that is not allowed to be touched by new ownership. The 73-foot tall Dinger Machine officially named “Homer” is owned by Miami-Dade County and cannot be moved, despite new owner Derek Jeter and former Marlins All-Star Giancarlo Stanton both making it known they wanted it gone.