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Volume 26 No. 210

Facilities

It has been 11 years since a $121.6M initiative was passed to upgrade the arena and practice facility
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
It has been 11 years since a $121.6M initiative was passed to upgrade the arena and practice facility
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
It has been 11 years since a $121.6M initiative was passed to upgrade the arena and practice facility
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Chesapeake Energy Arena is "running on outdated technology," and a series of upgrades proposed by Oklahoma City's Metropolitan Area Projects 4 program are "necessary for the arena to keep up with the times," according to Erik Horne of the OKLAHOMAN. The $115M project requested for the arena and the Thunder's practice facility is the "second largest of the MAPS 4 project budgets." Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said that because Chesapeake Energy Arena is publicly owned, it is the "city's obligation to keep the arena up to national standards." It has been 11 years since the last initiative of $121.6M was "passed by citizens to upgrade" the arena and practice facility. The home of the Thunder was built in '02 for less than $90M, but it was "obsolete before it was completed." While the arena has "hosted major concert series" and the Thunder since '08, a "span of 17 years is a good life for most event venues." That is a "lifetime for one built with limited amenities from the onset because of cost concerns." The Thunder's lease runs through '23 and Holt said the city "shouldn't go to that negotiating table with an arena that is below national standards" (OKLAHOMAN, 11/17).

FIXER UPPER: In Oklahoma City, Ellis & Casteel noted the city and the Thunder have "proposed replacing all the seats" at the arena, "enlarging entrances, adding restaurants at the top and bottom levels, installing a new scoreboard, building necessary storage space and other improvements." However, none of those proposed upgrades were "sought by the NBA or have been promoted as necessary to keep the Thunder in Oklahoma City" (OKLAHOMAN, 11/17).

Bank of America Stadium would need specific updates, like a center tunnel, to support a soccer team
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Bank of America Stadium would need specific updates, like a center tunnel, to support a soccer team
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Bank of America Stadium would need specific updates, like a center tunnel, to support a soccer team
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

NFL Panthers Owner David Tepper is "confident about Charlotte's bid" for an MLS expansion team, but Bank of America Stadium will first "need some major renovations," according to Hannah Smoot of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Tepper met with local media yesterday and said that the stadium will "need specific updates to support a soccer team, including outfitting for soccer camera angles, a center tunnel and two new locker rooms." He said that he "hopes to hear a decision from MLS soon." MLS Commissioner Don Garber earlier this month said that Charlotte had "done a lot of work to move its bid to the 'front of the line.'" Tepper has been "pushing for an MLS team after the league announced in April it would expand to 30 teams" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/19). In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg noted Tepper is "concerned that if Charlotte doesn't land the next expansion team, there may not be another chance for him or the city." He also "believes it's unlikely Charlotte will ever" have an MLB team. For that reason, he "believes MLS can fill the void of top-level sports entertainment in the summer" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/18).

STADIUM GAME: The CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL's Spanberg noted Bank of America Stadium, opened in '96, is "becoming more expensive to maintain and, in some ways, is obsolete because of features it lacks." Tepper yesterday reiterated that uptown Charlotte is the "best place for the Panthers to play now and in the future." Bank of America Stadium can "last another five years or so, but the Panthers owner has begun to speak publicly about building a retractable-roof domed stadium within a decade." Tepper called the current stadium "well-preserved and well-landscaped." But he also said that it is "important to begin preparing the community and local government leaders for what he envisions as a joint investment by the Panthers and taxpayers." PSL holders will be "embraced in some fashion if and when a new stadium is developed, but what that means specifically has yet to be determined." Tepper also said that the team will "decide by February whether it will stay" at Wofford College in Spartanburg for training camp until the $200M Rock Hill, S.C. headquarters opens in '22 (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/18).

IN IT TO WIN IT: ESPN.com's David Newton noted Tepper yesterday "made it clear that he will not accept long-term mediocrity" from the Panthers. The team has a 13-14 record since Tepper purchased the organization in '18, and if it posts a losing record this season, it will be the "second in a row and third in the past four seasons." Tepper said that fans who left the stadium early during the team's 29-3 loss to the Falcons on Sunday "were smart enough to recognize long-term mediocrity" (ESPN.com, 11/18). Tepper said that "several factors -- including mobile ticketing, [Cam] Newton's absence and a lack of high-profile home opponents -- have contributed to the Panthers' dwindling crowds at some games" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/19).

BIDING HIS TIME: THE ATHLETIC's Michael Lombardi noted in the two full seasons Tepper has owned the team, Panthers fans "have not witnessed any real action from him -- yet." So far he has been "rather low key, not messing with his football operation during his brief tenure." But "knowing his analytical background and the way he evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of companies, Tepper has been amassing notes, and soon his skills as a CEO will shine" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/18).

Oak View Group is "slated to develop eight new arenas over the next three years, six of which will forgo major-league teams, largely to keep their calendars clear for concerts," according to Anne Steele of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. OVG said that an arena can "generate twice as much net income from hosting a concert" than an NBA or NHL game. OVG added that being able to "schedule twice as many concerts as it would otherwise with a professional team in house is an attractive prospect in markets including Palm Springs, Calif., and Austin, Texas." Of the eight new arenas slated to be under construction or open by '22, OVG said that six of them are being developed in markets that "lack adequate concert venues." OVG also said that these arenas -- with 10,000-18,000 seats -- are being "designed with music as the primary focus, from acoustics to VIP amenities." They will include "fewer suites" and "add more clubs within the venue to entice concertgoers to linger before or after a show." Without an NHL or NBA team to schedule around, upward of 40 extra days a year are "available for concerts" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/19).