But Tillis has said he doesn't favor any direct state appropriation. However, he said he would treat the team like any other major employer.
The team could apply for an incentive grant through the state Commerce Department. But incentive programs generally are designed for companies that create new jobs. One, called Job Development Investment Grants, goes to companies that promise a net increase in employment.
'I would never move the team'
Richardson described his long effort to win the franchise, which was awarded in 1993. He also recounted his rise from an Eastern North Carolina home with no running water to a career in the NFL and a businessman who built a $4 billion-a-year company.
One reporter asked him why he couldn't fund the stadium improvements himself.
Franchises, he said, are "so coveted."
"They don't have to pay for them. There are only 32. That's the reality."
Though city officials say their participation will help keep the team in Charlotte, Richardson insisted he has no plans to move it.
"I would never move the team, I want to emphasize that," Richardson said. "I never made a threat to move the team. To be honest with you, it was offensive to me to suggest I would."
The 76-year-old Richardson said his estate will sell the team two years after he's gone. City officials are planning for that eventuality.
"Knowing Mr. Richardson's age, there are plans for what could happen should he leave this Earth," Kimble said.
Even those who questioned the city proposal expressed support for the Panthers and Richardson.
"The reality is there's still a long way to go," said Samuelson. "But we do love the Panthers and would love for them to stay."