PNC Arena Upgrades: Renovations will take on a more modern look

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A rendering of the proposed renovations to the exterior of the PNC Arena in Raleigh.

A rendering of the proposed renovations to the exterior of the PNC Arena in Raleigh.

Ration/HOK

PNC Arena, which has shown its age, could finally get a major facelift and redesign in the next few years.

The arena, opened in October 1999, has hosted Carolina Hurricanes and North Carolina State men’s basketball games, as well as concerts and other events as an entertainment center for the Triangle . Plans to renovate and improve the arena, which have been under discussion for years, have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the effort is back to give PNC Arena a more modern look and feel and provide the kind of amenities that paying customers, fans, expect and appreciate at today’s sports venues.

The Centennial Authority, the appointed body that oversees the arena for the city of Raleigh, Wake County and the state, received a detailed presentation on Wednesday about the possible changes – or the “new vision for the next 25 years of the arena”.

RATIO and HOK, the design firms that developed the pre-COVID arena improvement plan, presented an updated list of steps needed for a final improvement program and were to give the authority a range price update. In 2019, RATIO/HOK said the upgrade package would cost around $225 million.

“This is the first step in moving us in the right direction, authority chairman Philip Isley said at the meeting. “We are moving fast and I feel we have to do it.”

Michael Day, HOK’s senior project manager, said “time is running out” and said costs had increased since 2014. He said starting work in the summer of 2023 could be a “challenge” due to design decisions to be made and work. around the seasons.

“It’s all a bit like refitting an airplane while it’s flying,” Authority member Kieran Shanahan said at the meeting. “But for the first time, the stars seem to be aligning.”

The arena renovation goes hand-in-hand with Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon’s broader vision to make the property surrounding the arena a neighborhood and entertainment destination.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, during a recent visit during the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, stressed the need for improvements inside and outside the arena. CAA ICON, which advised the authority on negotiations for an arena lease extension with Dundon, will provide advice on improvements.

Hurricanes president and general manager Don Waddell said Wednesday that the redevelopment of the outdoor property could include two hotels, office buildings and retail in addition to entertainment venues.

“We can make it a place of destination,” Waddell said. “Make it a place where people want to go. We don’t have anything like that at the moment. »

Such changes require the cooperation and support of the NC State. The arena is just north of Carter-Finley Stadium in the Pack and the parking lots surrounding the arena are used for stadium parking and tailgating during the football season.

Waddell said there are 4,000 parking spaces on the PNC Arena side of the property and that could be increased to 8,000 to 10,000 spaces incorporating currently unused land.

“I think that would be a huge benefit not just for us, but also for NC State,” he said. “We think it’s a win/win for everyone.”

RATIO/HOK’s presentation noted that several other arenas were considered by the design consultants during the development of the proposals, and then some “new ideas” in the hosting and operation of the arenas. Included were Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center in New York and the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

One possible addition to PNC Arena that will have to be suspended is any sports betting design, which relied on the North Carolina legislature’s approval of online sports betting. The General Assembly rejected a bill that would have legalized betting last week.

Improvements to PNC Arena have been in the planning stages for years and design work began in 2014.

In March 2019, a presentation led by RATIO Principal Architect and CEO Bill Browne provided a “new vision” for the arena which included a rooftop bar and restaurant on the south end facing Carter-Finley Stadium . There were also proposals to remove stairwells or suites for more “income-generating spaces” and remove aisles on the lower level to add more seating.

It was noted at the time that the scope of the improvements depended on the authority agreeing to a new lease with the Hurricanes and the team’s parent company, Gale Force Sports & Entertainment. If approved, construction of the arena was expected to begin in 2020, beginning with new offices for Hurricanes and Gale Force personnel.

Then came the pandemic.

The Authority and the Hurricanes agreed to a five-year lease extension in May 2020. The lease was due to expire in 2024.

A requirement to complete the deal was that the authority obtain approval from the City of Raleigh and Wake County for $9 million per year through 2029 to be provided through the three-party agreement, in which the money is taken annually from the hotel and the food and drink prepared. tax revenues.

Both the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the Raleigh City Council approved the Tripartite Amendment in early October 2020 and the lease extension was finalized in July 2021. The lease now runs through September 2029.

Once renovation plans are finalized, the authority will contact city and county leaders to request additional funding.

“This is an exciting opportunity to move forward,” NC State athletic director Boo Corrigan said after the meeting Wednesday. “The good thing is that the building has good bones. There is so much positivity and pride that people have had in this building over the years with its upkeep. It seems like a natural progression.

This story was originally published June 29, 2022 9:00 a.m.

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In more than 30 years at the N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the beats for NC State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina, and is now in his 11th season on the beat for the Carolina Hurricanes. Alexander, who has won numerous state and national writing awards, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was part of The N&O’s coverage of the Cup run. Stanley 2006 Canes.

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