Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson indicated that he wants the franchise to be sold two years after his death, according to Erik Spanberg of the Charlotte Business Journal.
Richardson is 76 years old and had heart-replacement surgery four years ago, Spanberg wrote.
The revelation marks the first time details have been disclosed about the Panthers' fate beyond the life of Richardson, the founding owner. Mark and Jon Richardson, his sons, worked as Panthers executives before Jerry Richardson forced them out in 2009. Until then, everyone assumed Mark and Jon Richardson would own and operate the team after their father's death. Since then, Richardson and the Panthers have declined to disclose succession plans.
What makes all this difficult, Spanberg wrote, is the Panthers and the city of Charlotte would like to have a long-term relationship in place before the franchise is sold.
Richardson has been working on upgrades on Bank of America Stadium and wants approximately $125 million from the city, according to Spanberg. He gave a report to City Council this week on the topic, which "seems to have made a convincing argument."
Spanberg notes everything seems to be lined up in Richardson's favor: Among other things, since the team's inaugural season in 1995 the Panthers have sold out every game except two -- despite four winning seasons in franchise history. Richardson is also "one of the most popular of the league's 32 owners among his colleagues," Spanberg wrote.
Richardson said last year he has "no plans to sell or move the team."