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May 6, 2019

Dear Senators,

As the Mayors of the major tourism destination cities in South Carolina, we write to urge the
members of the General Assembly to support the passage of House Bill 4243, otherwise known
as the professional sports team incentive bill.

Each of our cities are hubs for tourism, which has spurred tremendous economic growth in our
communities, and in return, the state. In 2017, SC Parks Recreation and Tourism figures show
that spending on tourism totaled $22.6 billion statewide. More importantly, this same study
found that one in ten South Carolina jobs is supported by tourism. Tourism is important not only
to cities, but also to the rural areas of our state, bringing visitors and jobs all across South
Carolina. At its core, the opportunity provided to the City of Rock Hill by the Carolina Panthers
is a result of, and integral to, the continued growth of this economic engine. We all know that
tourism is a mainstay in our state’s economy, but it is important to recognize the integral role that
our cities play in this success.

People visit South Carolina not simply because they have an affinity for our state, but because of
the love they have for our cities and towns. Visitors come to Charleston not because it is in
South Carolina, but rather to enjoy world class dining, entertainment, art and culture. Families
bring their children and grandchildren to Myrtle Beach because they, themselves, grew up
digging in the sand and learning how to bodysurf. People come to Columbia because it is a
growing destination for restaurants, night life and college athletics, and is the repository of our
state’s history. Greenville is a business destination with an award winning downtown and
riverfront park. In short, our Tourism Industry thrives because people come to the communities –
the Cities – that make our state exceptional.

In the same way, amateur athletes, along with their families, trek to Rock Hill, both throughout
the calendar year and from year to year, to participate in national and international tournaments.
They keep coming back because of the City’s reputation for outstanding venues and events,
making it a leader in sports tourism. Not a leader only in South Carolina in the field of sports
tourism, but a leader in the Southeast.

There is no doubt that the successes of cities and towns across the state have been aided by past
actions of the General Assembly. One example being the ability to levy hospitality and
accommodations taxes have spurred much of the growth we enjoy today. We have used these
revenues to construct tourism related facilities and improve and expand our thoroughfares to
accommodate visitors from across the globe. Our citizens have also greatly benefitted from use
of these improvements and from the transfer of a significant amount of the cost of these facilities
to those from outside of South Carolina who come to visit.

We now ask that the General Assembly once again allow progress in our cities, which will in
turn benefit the smaller towns and rural areas of the state as well. As the legislature has acted in
the past to ensure economic development success as it pertains to the aerospace, automobile and
other industries, it must now do so for the tourism industry. The impact on Rock Hill and York
County in the specific instance before us today will be felt for generations to come. This
legislation will also provide all of our communities another tool in the proverbial toolbox to
build prosperity and wealth when the next similar opportunity arises.

The legislation before the General Assembly provides a vehicle for this professional sports
franchise, and others in the future, to create facilities not just for their purposes, but also to attract
and house future programming and events – in partnership with cities – that will create even
greater economic impact in our communities.

As this letter makes clear, it’s not just the Panthers who are the winners by the passage of this
legislation – it’s the people of South Carolina.

We urge passage of House Bill 4243 to support cities and tourism in South Carolina.

Mayor John Tecklenburg Mayor Steve Benjamin


City of Charleston City of Columbia

Mayor Knox White Mayor Brenda Bethune


City of Greenville City of Myrtle Beach

Mayor John Gettys


City of Rock Hill