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Carolina Hurricanes extend commitment to PNC Arena

NHL ice hockey team the Carolina Hurricanes has signed off on a five-year lease extension that will see it occupy PNC Arena until September 30, 2029.

The Hurricanes’ ownership group, Gale Force Sports and Entertainment, agreed the deal yesterday (Thursday) with the Centennial Authority, owners of PNC Arena. The first major professional sports franchise to locate in the Raleigh-Durham region after moving from Hartford in 1997, the Hurricanes have called PNC Arena home since the building opened in October 1999.

The two parties said the new lease extension includes operating expense agreements between the Centennial Authority and Gale Force, termination rights and repayment, and guarantee of performance.

Additionally, it includes the commitment of the Hurricanes Foundation to contribute cash and in-kind benefits of no less than $1m (£725,000/€844,000) per year to youth hockey and/or charities throughout the state of North Carolina.

Yesterday’s news comes after a similar announcement was made in May 2020. At the time, a five-year extension was also agreed, with the Hurricanes stating this granted it time to assess its options concerning its home.

The Hurricanes, along with North Carolina State University, have been the main tenants of the arena since it opened. The previous lease agreement had been due to run through to June 30, 2024, and reports at the time said a new contract would see the Authority pay 50% of the arena operating costs each year, up to $3.885m, with rent being reduced to $1.78m in 2020 and eliminated entirely in years to come.

Centennial Authority chairman Tom McCormick said that one of the goals was to get the Hurricanes to be in an average lease situation in the NHL, adding that it “clearly had one of the worst leases” in the league.

Speaking yesterday, McCormick said: “The Hurricanes were an integral part of the team who built PNC Arena and the Centennial Authority board is pleased to continue our operations of this regional arena with Hurricanes as a major tenant.”

Don Waddell, president and general manager of the Hurricanes, added: “This is an exciting time for our franchise on and off the ice and we plan to give this community plenty to cheer for now and into the future.”

PNC Arena is said to contribute approximately $262m annually to the Wake County economy through events ranging from Hurricanes games and NC State men’s basketball matches, to major concert tours.

Tom Dundon, the Hurricanes’ majority owner since January 2018, last month took full control of the franchise by buying out all remaining minority shares. This brought Peter Karmanos’ association with the team to a close. Karmanos acquired the Hartford Whalers in 1994, before moving the team to North Carolina in 1997.

Image: Alexisrael/CC BY-SA 3.0/Edited for size