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City approves spending $33.5 million on arena

Photo illustration by Ryan O'Shea

Photo illustration by Ryan O’Shea

Charlotte City Council members voted Monday to move forward with spending $33.5 million to upgrade Time Warner Cable Arena.

The upgrades are part of a contract signed in 2005 with the NBA franchise that was then called the Bobcats, now the Hornets. The contract requires the city, which owns the arena, to keep it in compliance with federal laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act; to maintain it at NBA standards, including making improvements if 50 percent of the franchises also have those improvements; and to pay for capital repairs, defects, damage, wear and tear and obsolescence.

The council voted 9-2 to approve the expenditure.

The Hornets originally had asked for $47.8 million in renovations, but negotiated with the city to reduce the cost. The renovations will include adding 600 seats; repairing and upgrading flooring; modernizing restrooms; adding dining choices; adding high-definition screens to the scoreboard; upgrading television screens; renovating suits; and refurbishing locker rooms.

Some of the upgrades will be paid for by the Hornets. Both parties will contribute $600,000 annually to a maintenance fund for 10 years. The remaining $27.5 million the city will pay for the upgrades will be spread out over five years from the city’s rental car tax.

The contract between the city and the Hornets – which also calls for the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority to operate the “back of house” operations, which essentially means keep the place up and running – gives the proceeds of all events, including rock concerts and Ice Capades shows, to the Hornets.

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