Charlotte gives green light to Spectrum Center project

The City of Charlotte has voted to approve $173m (£142m/€165m) in renovations to Spectrum Center, plus additional upgrades worth $42m, in a deal that will see the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets continue to play at the arena until 2045.

Hornets Sports & Entertainment, which manages the arena, welcomed the council’s decision, stating that it looked forward to “continuing to serve as stewards of Spectrum Center to make it the premier destination for sports and entertainment in the Carolinas”.

The vote comes after the City of Charlotte last month presented its $215m plan to revamp Spectrum Center and develop a new $60m training facility for the Hornets. The approval of the deal extends the Hornets’ lease at Spectrum Center, which had been due to expire in 2030.

Spectrum Center first opened in 2005 and is owned by the City of Charlotte, with the Hornets operating it as the main tenant. Under the new agreement, the Hornets will pay $2m per year in rent from 2030 and $1.1m in capital investments from 2024.

The City of Charlotte is contractually obligated to provide the $173m in improvements for the arena, with the money coming from its tourism fund. Construction work could potentially start this summer and will take four years to complete.

The council voted 10-1 in favour of the new contract, with Braxton Winston the only member to vote against the deal. The Charlotte Observer reports that Winston described the contract as a “bad deal” due to future concerns and issues regarding the existing lease.

The training facility is set to be located adjacent to Spectrum Center at the site of a redeveloped transport hub. Hornets president Fred Whitfield has said that the facility is a “necessity now in NBA if you want to compete”.

Image: Matthew D. Britt/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size