Hornets, CRVA seek $30M+ for TWC Arena upgrades

Tax money could pay for arena improvements

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The City of Charlotte is requesting council approve of $30 million dollars in upgrades and renovations to the Time Warner Cable Arena.

The city owns the arena, and is contractually obligated to maintain the facility, operated by the Hornets.

In its 25-year agreement with the Hornets, the contract states improvement requests can be made after the 8th year. The Hornets are entering its 9th year at the arena.

The staff recommendation presented Monday night by Deputy City Manager, Ron Kimble, calls for $29.5 million in improvements over 5 years and Hornet funding an additional $2.4 million.

The City and Hornets would also each agree to fund $600,000 more per year for the next decade into an existing pay-as-you-go capital fund. Kimble says the Hornets contribution will go towards upgrading the teams home locker room and suites.

Funding will come from revenue collected on rental-car and hotel/motel occupancy tax.

Ed Driggs, District 7 council member expressed concerns the plan will put a financial burden on the city.

"What flexibility does it give us? I feel it puts us in a stretch financially," he said.

"We have run through those debt models item by item," said Kimble. "Our debt models sustains this kind of spending in the next five years."

Kimble says the agreement is a "rational" one and the "best-way" to meet the city's obligations while ensuring necessary improvements are made.

"It just needed a facelift and it needed to be refurbished. We we sat down as a group, and that's how we got here today," said Fred Whitfiled.

The Chief Operating Officer with Time Warner Cable Arena said keeping up with technology is high priority.

Along with a HD quality scoreboard, and upgrading 500 TV monitors, there is along list of improvements planned.

It includes, adding durable flooring, modernizing bathrooms, and adding more restaurant access.

The plan also calls for 600 additional seats. The arena ranks near the bottom in the NBA when it comes to the number of lower bowl seats available.

Such improvements Whitefiled says will keep the arena at a competitive advantage in recruiting future events, like ACC basketball tournaments.

"Our goal is to try and bid more for those tournaments, but lower bowl becomes very important to college tournaments."

When asked if the discussion was the result of the Hornet's recent name change, or a push to win the NBC All Stars game, Whitfiled said the conversation would have occurred (as stated in the contract) without the recent developments.

The city estimates in 2013, the arena made a $216.16 Million economic impact. The arena also employs 2558 employees.

The city council is scheduled to take the issue to a vote September 8th.


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