Charlotte May Be The Next Municipality To Hand Out Public Money For An Arena Upgrade

The Charlotte arena is getting long in the tooth at the age of 17.

The municipal spending spree on building or renovating sports facilities could be continuing in Charlotte, North Carolina as the Charlotte Economic Development Department and Charlotte Hornets’ officials have come up with a plan to renovate the 17-year-old city owned arena. The proposal will now be debated by the Charlotte city council. Charlotte would invest $215 million on refurbishing the arena. Charlotte will throw in an additional $60M for a Hornets training facility on the site of the bus station across the street. The plan would move an above ground bus facility underground. The agreement would also extend the Hornets’ lease with the city an additional 15 years until 2045. The City of Charlotte is contractually obligated to pay for at least $173 million in improvements to keep the arena in a certain working order.

Charlotte has been in the arena business since 1986 when construction of the Charlotte arena began. The building was outdated the day it opened on August 11th, 1988 as there were too many seats, 24,042 and too few luxury boxes, about a dozen. The Charlotte Coliseum closed its doors in 2005 after a 17-year run. The Hornets owner George Shinn demanded a new arena with revenue generating seats. Shinn moved to New Orleans following the 2001-02 season after Charlotte voters said no to a new arena by a two to one margin in 2001. NBA Commissioner David Stern didn’t believe the results of the referendum were totally reflective of the feelings of Charlotte residents. After Shinn left, the city’s mayor Pat McCrory set out to build an arena with taxpayers’ dollars without going to the voters to ask them if they wanted a new arena. McCrory and Stern worked out a deal and the city promised it would build an arena if the NBA would return. The arena game continues.

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