SBD/31/Facilities Venues

WOOLDRIDGE TO LOBBY CITY COUNCIL FOR UPTOWN HIVE FOR HORNETS

          Hornets co-Owner Ray Wooldridge "will make a pitch"
     tomorrow before the Charlotte City Council for a city-
     Hornets partnership on a new downtown arena, according to
     Lauren Markoe of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER.  The team would
     like to break ground on the project this summer and have it
     completed in time for the 2002 season.  After visiting
     various new facilities, Wooldridge said that he wants the
     arena to have a "modern design, something that will fit in
     with Charlotte's tall, glassy bank buildings" and a "kid-
     friendly" facility that "reflects the family-centered nature
     of Charlotte."  Wooldridge: "It's not going to be a Disney
     World, but it's going to be an entertainment center." 
     Currently, K.C.-based architectural firm Ellerbe Becket is
     in the process of designing the arena, which would cost
     around $220M and cover 750,000 square feet.  Wooldridge
     added that he "wants something smaller and more intimate"
     than Staples Center, but with "beautiful" and "upscale"
     restaurants.  A site for the proposed arena hasn't been
     determined yet, but Charlotte-based First Union National
     Bank recently purchased ten acres of land next to Ericsson
     Stadium "that many consider a fine spot for an arena." 
     First Union has said that it would "cooperate" with such a
     project on the land (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/29).
          CHANCES ARE? In Winston-Salem, John Delong writes that
     if Wooldridge "can succeed in portraying a new arena as a
     magnet for wholesome family entertainment and as something
     vital to the city's uptown growth and economy, then shovels
     could be breaking ground sometime this summer."  But Delong
     adds that if Wooldridge "fails to draw attention from
     [Hornets co-Owner George] Shinn, then the team and the city
     could get hunkered down in a bitter political fight with the
     future of the franchise ... at stake" (W-S JOURNAL, 1/31).

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