City to pay $275 million to renovate Spectrum Center, fund new practice facility

The Charlotte City Council is reviewing a proposal that they will vote on on June 13th.
The city is set to pay $275 million to repair the Spectrum Center and pay for a new Hornet’s practice facility outside the arena.
Published: May. 31, 2022 at 9:57 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The city is set to pay $275 million to repair the Spectrum Center and pay for a new Hornet’s practice facility outside the arena.

If the proposal is approved, the city will extend its lease with the Hornets until 2045.

“Spectrum arena is basically our living room,” said council member Malcolm Graham.

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“It’s more than just basketball it’s concerts and political conventions that bring economic value to our community and our city.”

Most of the money would come from tourism funds.

This comes after an assessment of the Spectrum Center in 2018 and 2019, finding things, like mechanical systems, elevators, escalators, locker space and more that need to be fixed or improved.

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Under the city’s contract with the Hornets, the city is obligated to pay $173 million for renovations.

“We were all concerned that we accrued this much liability,” Charlotte city council member Ed Driggs told WBTV. “We had a contract that I thought was unfavorable with the Hornets that came about because we were anxious to sign a team when the Bobcats left.”

The proposal also outlines that the city could pay an additional $42 million for other repairs and upgrades. This would draw from the tourism fund, which is money from hotel, food and beverage taxes.

Lastly, the city is considering paying another $60 million to fund a new Hornet’s practice facility outside of the arena. This is money they say they would hope to make back through naming rights revenue.

Under one proposed plan, the practice facility would sit on top of retail and a re-developed transit center.

“All the money that we’re spending is money set aside specifically for certain types of projects, this being one of them,” explained council member Larken Egleston. “It’s not general fund money that we could be using for some of our other things that most of the community would agree would be higher priorities. These are dedicated funds with a dedicated purpose.”

But some council members raised questions of how all of this tourism funding going to the Spectrum Center would impact other projects relying on that funding, like arts and cultural programs.

According to city documents, if this proposal gets the greenlight, the tourism fund would not have any money for projects until 2027.

“We need to see what the actual implication is in terms of the length of any delays that might occur, who is affected by that, we really don’t have that information,” Driggs said.

Driggs wants those questions answered and he also wants to hear from the public.

“We feel that keeping the team is of value, and the question is whether the public thinks this is the right value,” he said.

Work on this could start as early as this summer. A follow-up presentation to the council is scheduled for June 6th, and the council will vote on the proposal June 13.

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