York County sues Tipper, Rock Hill Companies to recover $21 million linked to ‘failed vanity project’

YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) – York County has sued several organizations of Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and the City of Rock Hill over the “misappropriation” of $21 million in funds tied to the team’s under-construction facility in Rock Hill.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve gotten to this point that it’s going to result in one lawsuit after another,” York County Councilman Bump Rudy says.

according to lawsuit, that money was restricted public funds that were to be used to expand Mt. Gallant Road in York County.

Appaloosa Management, DT Sports Holding and Tepper Sports Holding are named as Defendants and are referred to as the “Tepper Defendants”.

County leaders allege in the lawsuit that the defendants in Tipper “improperly used these funds for the failed Vanity Project, Carolina Panthers headquarters and practice facility.”

Court documents state that “both the city and the defendants in Tepper have done the County of York and its taxpayers harm, and the county should be made complete.”

“There’s a lot of money at stake, so we’re just doing it to protect York County taxpayers,” he says. “York County has done everything it was supposed to do in this agreement, but the other parties may or may not have done it, and I think the courts are one way to embody that.”

The $21 million came from the Penny Tax Revenue and was earmarked for the expansion of Mt. Gallant Road is between Dave Lyle Boulevard and Anderson Road two to three lanes, according to the lawsuit.

Mayor John Gettys spoke about the failed practices facility of the Panthers and the bankruptcy declaration of GT Real Estate Holdings.

According to court documents, as plans for the project were developed, defendants identified the need for further expansion of Mt. Gallant Road to five lanes instead of three. This road borders the planned headquarters.

County leaders claim that they, Tepper and the City of Rock Hill have agreed that if the Penny Tax Fund is made available, the defendants Tepper will manage and construct the Mt.Galant Road expansion and be responsible for all additional costs.

York County alleges that the funds were “mixed” with other operating funds and misappropriated for other aspects of the project.

The lawsuit states that “to date, no progress has been made toward completing the expanded scope of Mount Galant.”

York County seeks to recover and recover $21 million in full.

A spokesperson for Tepper Sports and Entertainment declined to comment.

The City of Rock Hill issued the following statement:

Attorney Tommy Pope says the presence of Rock Hill City in this suit is actually not surprising.

“What I read there was that lawyers were trying to do their best job in York County,” Bob says.

Attorney Tommy Pope says the inclusion of Rock Hill is likely more about York County covering all of its bases, especially if the city is in breach of contract.

“Anytime lawyers get involved, everyone should go into their own hole and they should protect their own interests,” he says.

Bob is not only a lawyer, but also a state legislator who fought for this project – and fears that the failure of this project will hurt future proposals.

“It’s going to be much more difficult for the next opportunity we have to have the legislative or political courage to step up and try to do something,” he says.

The Carolina Panthers facility and team headquarters were shut down in early March, but construction wasn’t finished until the end of the month.

Then last week, Tepper’s GT Real Estate Holdings, LLC was set up in anticipation of the team’s headquarters, filed for bankruptcy.

This bankruptcy filing dealt a fatal blow to the Panthers project in Rock Hill.

Related: Elected leaders, Team Tipper avoid questioning Rock Hill deal collapse

In October 2020, the Carolina Panthers revealed offers for their new headquarters and training facility coming to Rock Hill.

Related: Carolina Panthers unveils designs for headquarters, practice facility in Rock Hill, South Carolina

It was a joint detection by the Panthers, York County and the city of Rock Hill. The mixed-use site is designed to host Tepper Sports and Entertainment and become a destination for people across the region.

The lawsuit adds that the project and the developments spurred by the project were expected to generate more than $100 million for the county in tax revenue and economic benefits. The county is seeking compensation for those lost revenue.

When completed, the development was to include restaurants, retail, a healthcare facility, apartments, hotels, hallways, and office space.

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