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When will the last leg of I-485 open?

The Charlotte Observer had a strange article on the topic earlier this week, claiming that the answer was “by July 20.” Right now, they’re still pouring concrete near Prosperity Church Road.  The key firm yet not so firm quote:

“The concrete paving contractor was a little bit optimistic,” said Scott Cole, a deputy division engineer with the N.C. DOT. “There have been some weather issues. Our [contractual] completion date is July 20. We don’t have the means to push at this point.”

All of which sounds like they’ll make July 20 if it doesn’t rain too much. And if it’s a west spring, all bets are off.

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Meanwhile in Carson, California

The local city council has approved a proposal to build a stadium to to host the the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders.

The good news for Charlotte: If this deal goes through and the Raiders and Chargers move to Carson, it takes the greater Los Angeles market out of play. That greatly reduces relocation options for the Carolina Panthers. The Carson facility would also be privately financed.

The bad news for Charlotte: The proposed Carson stadium would cost an estimated $1.7 billion. At some point, the Panthers will demand a new stadium and 100 percent private financing is unlikely here in the Queen City. So there’s likely to be a demand made on state and local officials to find an awful lot of money for a new football palace.

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Asheville is a very weird place, item #2,089,492

From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

The Asheville metro area is the only one among 15 in North Carolina with a population growing only because more people are moving to the region, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released in late March.

Those figures show that more people are dying than being born in Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties — the four that comprise the metro area.

The Asheville metro gained 17,457 people over a four-year period that ended in July 2014, a 4.1 percent increase and a gain that put the area’s population at 442,316.

During that same period, 774 more people died in the metro area than were born.

And yet Asheville is well known for its beer culture, which seems really odd given those demographics.

You can read the rest of the article here.

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Sea monster onslaught warning

For Thanksgiving Day, in Irving, TX, when the Carolina Panthers play the Dallas Cowboys in a nationally televised football game. This could get real ugly, as The Kraken will almost certainly be over any NFL-imposed suspension from his domestic violence case by then. And yes, this marks the first time that the Panthers will play on Thanksgiving.

The Panthers also are scheduled to be on Sunday Night Football on Oct. 25 when the Eagles come to town and will make a Monday Night Football appearance eight days later (Nov. 2) when the Colts come calling. So three nationally-televised games for the Panthers — not bad at all.

You can see the complete regular-season schedule for the Panthers here.

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UNC-CH athletics rebrands itself

Super interesting article from the Raleigh News & Observer on UNC-Chapel Hill’s efforts to establish a consistent brand across 28 varsity sports teams:

Finding consistency – in colors, in lettering, in numerals on different uniforms – was among the primary of objectives of a project between UNC and Nike, the university’s longtime apparel partner, that began 18 months ago.

“I think the main goal was to build on our tradition, and then come up with something that is exciting for recruits and current student athletes, and then gain some consistency across all of our sports and across the university,” Bubba Cunningham, the UNC athletic director, said on Monday before UNC unveiled its refreshed logos and color scheme. “It’s really hard trying to get the same Carolina blue on all kinds of different product – whether it’s a paper product or clothing product or helmet.”

The timing is also interesting, given the university  could well get hammered by the NCAA again. It might have made more sense to do as the school comes off any probation the NCAA may choose to impose rather than before.
Bonus article: Speaking of UNC-Chapel Hill and the NCAA, the N&O also has an article out on how the NCAA is treating the university as a partner in its investigation of academic fraud at the university.
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So how much does a NASCAR crewmember make?

Glad you asked. Try $160,000 a year for one of the guys that goes over the wall and changes tires during the race. That figure, as reported by ESPN, comes from a lawsuit against Michael Waltrip Racing  by a former tire changer for the team.

A former Michael Waltrip Racing tire changer claims he was fired from his $160,000-a-year job in August after he demanded to have surgery for an injury suffered on pit road, while the team states he was released because he stole a specially made gun on the day he asked for permission to talk to other race teams.

Brandon Hopkins sued the team in January in North Carolina Superior Court in Charlotte, and Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) filed its response last week while also having the case moved to North Carolina Business Court.

You can read the rest of the story here.

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N.C. liquor law update

The Asheville Citizen-Times provides an update on various bills before the General Assembly to change how alcohol is sold in North Carolina. A brief summary from the article:

State law requires that all sales of liquor by the bottle be in the network of ABC stores that are owned by and benefit local government. Brewers selling more than 25,000 barrels of beer a year also must use a third-party distributor, instead of selling their products directly to bars and grocery stores.

Bills filed in the legislature this year would allow the state’s growing distilleries to sell one bottle per year per person of their product at their distillery and let ABC stores hold free tastings so people could sample different kinds of alcohol.

There are also proposals to relax limits on smaller breweries’ ability to sell beer to bars, restaurants and grocery stores without using a third-party distributor and to allow a brewery to sell a visitor a glass of wine.

But, none so far have advanced beyond the House Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee. The liquor bills are parked, along with scores of others on a wide variety of topics, in the Senate Rules Committee chaired by Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson.

The committee is sometimes a graveyard for bills Senate leadership does not want to consider. Apodaca did not return a request for comment on whether the bills will get a hearing.

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The Panthers’ biggest cap number

Charles Johnson at $20,020,000 million. As ESPN’s David Newton reports, that’s the third highest cap figure for any player in the NFL this year. Is Johnson a really good defensive end? Yes. Is he anywhere near being the third best player in the league? No. And who can we blame for Johnson’s contract? Marty Hurney of course.

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C-130 force structure update

I’ll be writing a column on this for Carolina Journal, but for now here’s a quick summary on the latest U.S. Air Force C-130 fleet plan, which was just presented to Congress. The 440th Airlift Wing at Pope AAF in Fayetteville is still toast. The N.C. Air National Guard here in Charlotte will still loss two of its C-130Hs, to bring the unit down to eight planes, which is the standard size for National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-130 units. (The manpower impact is likely to be minimal, as the NCANG gained almost no jobs when the unit gained those two planes in the last BRAC round in 2005.) And the Air Force wants to retire a total of 28 additional C-130Hs in FY2017 and FY2018, though it wasn’t announced yet which units would be losing planes as a result. I doubt Charlotte would be where those cuts take place if approved by Congress, but you never know.

You can read the force structure plan here via the Fayetteville Observer.

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