A massive statue of former Carolina Panthers team owner Jerry Richardson will never return to its spot outside Bank of America Stadium after its removal over concerns it could be targeted by protestors, according to a report Thursday.
Panthers officials view the statue’s removal as a permanent decision, a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking told the Charlotte Observer. The 13-foot statue was installed in 2016 as a tribute to Richardson, the team’s founder.
Richardson does not plan to take any legal action if that statue is permanently removed, according to the report. The statue is being stored inside Bank of America Stadium.
The Panthers confirmed plans to remove that statue on Wednesday, citing concerns that it would become a safety hazard if protestors were to topple it. A number of monuments have been knocked over or vandalized during recent protests against racial injustice.
“We were aware of the most recent conversation surrounding the Jerry Richardson statue and are concerned there may be attempts to take it down,” the team said in a statement. “We are moving the statue in the interest of public safety.”
Richardson drew widespread criticism in 2017 after a Sports Illustrated report uncovered credible evidence that he had engaged in workplace misconduct, including racially charged remarks toward employees. Richardson sold the franchise to current owner David Tepper for $2.3 billion in 2018 amid an NFL investigation into the allegations.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell later fined Richardson $2.75 million.
In July 2018, Tepper said that he was “contractually obligated to keep that statue as it is” outside the stadium. The Observer reported that contract had a clause that allowed for removal if the statue posed a danger to the public.