SBD/August 26, 2014/Facilities

City of Charlotte Prepared To Spend $33.5M On Improvements For TWC Arena

Funding for upgrades to TWC Arena would come from a hotel/motel and car rental tax
The city of Charlotte is prepared to spend $27.5M in "capital improvements for Time Warner Cable Arena, as well as 10 years’ worth of annual payments of $600,000 for ongoing maintenance," according to a front-page piece by Steve Harrison of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. City staff told the City Council last night that the money would "come from two hospitality taxes: a hotel/motel tax and a car rental tax that are already in place." Council members are "scheduled to vote on the deal Sept. 8." The Hornets would "receive money for restaurant renovations, bathroom improvements, new lighting, visitor locker room upgrades, moving the ticket office and scoreboard improvements." The team also would "replace a number of 'tabletop' seats in its lower bowl with traditional seats, which would increase capacity by about 600." The Hornets in March asked the city to also spend roughly $6M to "renovate suites and $600,000 to refurbish the Hornets’ locker room." The Hornets "agreed to pay for part of the home team locker-room improvements and suite renovations." Just as the city "agreed to spend an extra $600,000 a year for 10 years in annual maintenance costs, the Hornets are also going to pay $600,000 into that maintenance account." The team will dedicate $2.4M of that money "for the suite and locker-room improvements" from '14-18. When the $600,000 payments start next year, the city and team will "both be spending" nearly $1M on annual maintenance. Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble said that the additional $600,000 will "come with strings." He said that the team "won’t be able to use that money for suite improvements, unless the city gives its approval." The city's decision "not to use public dollars on suites is meant, in part, to increase support among the public for the renovations." The city will "oversee all arena construction, except for the Hornets’ work on the team’s locker room" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/26). The chart below outlines Time Warner Cable Arena funding recommendations to be voted on by the city council: 

FUNDING
IMPROVEMENT
$7.7M
Scoring and video digital equipment
$2.2M
Flooring repairs
$2.125M
Founders level restaurant
$2.1M
Restrooms
$1.8M
*Suite improvements
$1.5M
HD broadcast infrastructure
$1.4M
Ticket office move
$775,000
Additional lower level seats
$600,000
*Hornets locker room
$575,000
Event level restaurant
$560,000
IT infrastructure
$550,000
TV monitors
$350,000
Visitors locker room
$260,000
Main bowl lighting
$250,000
Press room
$175,000
Secondary tenant/event locker room
$100,000
Event production rooms
$2.5M
Contingency

*Paid for by the Hornets

TAKE A STEP BACK? In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg reported council members "posed few questions about an issue that typically involves intense debate: investing taxpayer money into stadiums and arenas used by privately owned major-league sports teams" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/25). A CHARLOTTE OBSERVER editorial states the City Council "needs to flyspeck those spreadsheets to excise the 'wants.'" Council members also "need to verify that at least half of other NBA arenas have indeed made the precise upgrade that the Hornets say is required for them." The editorial: "We cringe at the thought of spending millions on an arena when our city has so many needs." Even so, "some sizable chunk" of this $27.5M is "required by contract." For "everything else, put the ball" in the hands of Hornets Owner Michael Jordan (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/26).
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