CHARLOTTE – David Tepper was approved by the NFL to purchase the Carolina Panthers back in May, but he didn't officially become the owner until the transaction closed Monday.
He kept his distance during that period. But now a new era has truly begun.
"It's great to be in the building," Tepper said. "Great to meet people."
Tepper has been walking up and down the halls of Bank of America Stadium, chatting briefly with various staff members, and he met with the media at his introductory press conference Tuesday morning.
His arrival has signaled change, evidenced by something as simple as new paint and the removal of signage in the stadium lobby.
Among the major changes he discussed at the presser:
- A new practice facility, which he believes the team desperately needs. "We can't be less than competitive with other NFL teams," he said. "We're falling behind a little bit."
- Early discussions about plans to "re-do" the stadium and host more events for the Charlotte community, like concerts and high school championship games.
- The search for a team president, who will be tasked with fostering a family environment.
Establishing the right culture is a major priority for Tepper as he takes the reins from team founder and former owner Jerry Richardson, who was recently fined by the NFL following an investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct.
"Openness and team," Tepper said. "I think there has been an atmosphere where this organization wasn't allowed to be a team, and was not able to go up and talk about things. There is going to be no impediment to that in the future. Let me say that again: There is going to be no impediment to that in the future. Whatever that brings, that will bring.
"It's a new day, a new future. And I don't want anything distracting us from winning a Super Bowl."
For as long as he can remember, the only team Tepper wanted to see raise the Lombardi Trophy was his hometown Steelers.
But after becoming a minority owner in Pittsburgh and thinking about the possibility of owning a team of his own, Tepper was drawn to Carolina. Of all the teams in the NFL, the Panthers were his top choice.
"For me personally, Charlotte is just a great place to be," he said after the press conference. "My mother and sister live down in Miami, my kids live up in New York, my brother lives in the Pittsburgh area, and if you draw a line connecting all three you'd end up near Charlotte.
"And there are a lot of similarities between this organization and the Pittsburgh organization. In some ways, it was modeled after Pittsburgh."
But unlike the six-time champion Steelers, the Panthers have yet to win a Super Bowl.
The global hedge fund president is invested in changing that.
"I have one ring some place in my bottom drawer from that other organization. It had a little too much yellow in it," Tepper joked. "I've got to get one with more blue in it."