Speedway Motorsports CEO Bruton Smith said Tuesday in a radio interview that he’d be willing to buy the Panthers from owner Jerry Richardson – and Smith said he wouldn’t make city or state taxpayers pay for improvements at Bank of America Stadium, Steve Lyttle of the Charlotte Observer reports.
Smith’s comments came near the end of an interview with WBT-AM morning talk show host Keith Larson.
Larson said the interview was prompted by remarks he’d made Monday, in which he referred to Smith’s threat several years ago to move Charlotte Motor Speedway out of Concord in a dispute with local officials over his plans to build a drag raceway there.
Smith finally got approval to build zMAX Dragway.
Larson had expressed skepticism on air Monday about whether Smith really would have followed through with his threat, and Smith said Tuesday in the interview: “My intent was to relocate the speedway.”
Larson’s comments had come in light of negotiations between Richardson and officials from both the city of Charlotte and the state, over Richardson’s plans to make nearly $300 million worth of improvements at the stadium. The Panthers’ owner wants local and state money to pay for a chunk of the project.
One background factor in the negotiations has been the possibility that the team could be sold to out-of-town ownership – and possibly moved – after Richardson’s death.
Near the end of their interview, Larson asked Smith if he would be interested in buying the team. The speedway owner answered: “Well, it depends. Do you think he is interested in selling?
“If the price is right, I’d be interested.”