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).