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Commission approves new Panther contract

Albany Panthers General Manager Will Carter, left, speaks with owner Rod Chappelle shortly after the Albany City Commission voted to grant them a new 5-year contract to use the civic center.

Albany Panthers General Manager Will Carter, left, speaks with owner Rod Chappelle shortly after the Albany City Commission voted to grant them a new 5-year contract to use the civic center.

ALBANY, Ga. — Despite the reservations of some elected officials, the Albany City Commission voted 6-0-1 to approve a new five-year contract worth roughly $250,000 with the parent company of the Albany Panthers indoor football team.

The contract all but guarantees there will be a 2012 season for the Panthers, who are returning to defend the Southern Indoor Football League’s championship title the team won last season.

While the vote may have come without any dissenters — Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike abstained from voting on the matter — it did come with some discussion and disclaimers.

Mayor pro tem and Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff said he was concerned that a signed personal guarantee from owner Rod Chappelle didn’t come with a credit or background check.

“I guess my point is that you need a credit check, a bank letter and things like that before a personal guarantee really matters,” Langstaff said. “I’d like to offer a substitute motion that we approve the agreement subject to the city manager’s satisfaction of the group’s creditworthiness.”

Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard said he was generally dissatisfied with the fact that the contract information didn’t appear on the desks of the commissioners sooner.

“When we vote on any contract of this magnitude, it’s an injustice to get something like this just a few days before we have to vote on it,” Howard said.

The contract itself is worth roughly $50,000 per year, depending on the amount of concessions and attendance at the civic center, Parks and Recreation Director Suzanne Davis said.

The Panthers’ home opener is roughly six weeks away, with the season set to start in early March.