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Charlotte City Council votes to approve renovations to Spectrum Center

Charlotte will spend over $215 million upgrading Spectrum Center, the Hornets' training facility and building a new underground transit center.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte City Council voted 10-1 Monday to approve spending over $200 million for upgrades at the Spectrum Center and its practice facility. 

While the vote passed, there are concerns over the grand plan and how it will all unfold. Many on the economic planning committee said this new faculty will push for the revitalization of Uptown Charlotte. Others said revitalization can't happen without the sale and usage of the empty Epicentre building.

The Spectrum Center, which has been home to Charlotte's NBA franchise since opening, is owned by the city, which is obligated to make upgrades when necessary. 

The upgrades include $173 million in required Spectrum Center renovations, an additional $42 million in other improvements, and $62 million for a performance facility. 

The Hornets' practice facility would move across the street to where the transit center is currently located. The transit center would be relocated to a new underground facility below the current spot in Uptown. 

City Council heard public comments before voting on the measure. Some council members are concerned about how quickly they had to decide on the issue after hearing from the public. Those concerns were voiced during the last meeting. 

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"I'm just nervous here we are just rocket speed from last week going into next week," Tariq Bokhari said at the time. 

At-large Councilman Braxton Winston also pushed back against the quick decision, saying it was "put on us rather abruptly." 

The renovations could also affect the expansion of the Gold Line streetcar. Part of Phase Three of the plan would take the line from the old Eastland Mall site to the Rosa Parks Transit Center on Beatties Ford Road. 

Officials who support the measure say it's another step in revitalizing Uptown, something Mayor Vi Lyles addressed on WCNC Charlotte's Flashpoint. Lyles said this would increase foot traffic in Uptown and would help companies located in the center of the city get employees back in the office with less remote work. 

"I don't think that you'd see it today," Lyles said at the time. "But we'll see at some point in the 2022 to '23 timeframe. I do believe that there's the opportunity to see it then."

WCNC Charlotte was able to obtain a statement from Hornets Sports & Entertainment, read it in full below: 

“Hornets Sports & Entertainment truly values the public-private partnership that we share with the City of Charlotte, including our agreement to manage Spectrum Center, which is a city-owned building. We want to thank our mayor, the City Manager and his office, and the entire Charlotte City Council for recognizing the economic and community impact that Spectrum Center has within our region. We look forward to continuing to serve as stewards of Spectrum Center to make it the premier destination for sports and entertainment in the Carolinas. We are thrilled to have extended our lease agreement and ensure that Spectrum Center and Uptown Charlotte will remain the home of the Charlotte Hornets for an additional 15 years through 2045.”

More pushback has come back on where the new facility will be. The plan for the Performance Center is right around the corner from the empty Epicentre. WCNC Charlotte asked Assistant City Manager Tracy Dodson if the City of Charlotte can buy the Epicentre since it's a apart of the mater plan. 

"I don’t think it’s on the city’s mind to buy the Epicentre," Dodson said. "We want to go back with what we had with the previous owner.”  

In a previous conversation, many local leaders told WCNC Charlotte the previous owners were "anything but good." Others also said an empty Epicentre attracts crime, which deters people from the possible new entertainment district.

Contact Austin Walker at awalker@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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