PNC Arena to take on more modern look, feel with planned renovations. Here’s the latest

·3 min read

PNC Arena, which has been showing its age, finally could be in for a major facelift and overhaul in the next few years.

The arena, opened in October 1999, has hosted Carolina Hurricanes and N.C. State men’s basketball games as well as concerts and other events as an entertainment hub for the Triangle. Plans for renovations and enhancements for the arena, in the talking stages for years, were put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the push is back on to give PNC Arena a more modernized look and feel, and provide the kind of amenities that the paying customers, the fans, have come to expect and enjoy in today’s sports venues.

The Centennial Authority, the appointed body that oversees the arena for the City of Raleigh, Wake County and the state, on Wednesday was given an extensive presentation on possible changes – or the “new vision for the arena’s next 25 years.”

RATIO and HOK, the design firms that crafted the pre-COVID arena enhancement plan, put forth an updated list of the steps necessary for a final enhancement program and was to give the authority an updated price range. In 2019, RATIO/HOK said the upgrade package would cost about $200 million.

Renovating the arena goes hand-in-hand with a broader vision Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon has for making the property surrounding the arena an entertainment district and destination.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, in a recent visit during the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, emphasized the need for upgrades both inside and outside the arena. CAA ICON, which advised the authority on the negotiations on an arena lease extension with Dundon, will advise on the enhancements.

Such changes require cooperation and support from N.C. State. The arena sits just north of the Pack’s Carter-Finley Stadium and the parking lots surrounding the arena are used for stadium parking and tailgating during football season.

The RATIO/HOK presentation noted that several other arenas were reviewed by the design consultants in developing the proposals and “fresh ideas” in arena hospitality and operation considered. 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 put on hold is any designs for a sportsbook, which hinged on the North Carolina legislature approving online sports gambling. The General Assembly voted down a bill that would have legalized betting last week.

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

In March 2019, a presentation headed by Bill Browne, the RATIO CEO, provided a “new vision” of the arena that included a rooftop bar and restaurant on the south end facing Carter-Finley Stadium. There also were proposals for removing stairwells or suites for more “income-producing spaces” and removing aisles on the lower level to add more seats.

It was noted at that time that the scope of the enhancements was contingent on the authority agreeing on a new lease with the Hurricanes and the team’s parent company, Gale Force Sports & Entertainment. If approved, the arena construction was to begin in 2020, starting with new office space for the Hurricanes and Gale Force staff.

Then came the pandemic.

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

A requirement in completing the agreement was that the authority gain approval from the City of Raleigh and Wake County that $9 million a year through 2029 be provided through the Tri-Party Agreement, in which money annually is appropriated from the hotel and prepared food and beverage tax revenue.

The Wake County board of commissioners and the Raleigh City Council both approved the Tri-Party amendment in early October 2020 and the lease extension was finalized in July 2021. The lease now runs through September 2029.

Once the renovation plans have been finalized, the authority will approach city and county leaders requesting additional funding.