Bobcats want $42 million in upgrades to arena

by: Jim Bradley Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte's arena in uptown has been open for seven years. 
Now the Charlotte Bobcats, who play there and operate the arena, said it’s time to spruce it up and taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill.
The team has sent the city a list of requests -- which include items like moving the ticket office, refurbishing restaurants and luxury suites, and upgrading scoreboards and video systems.
All of it adds up to $41.9 million over the next four years.
That's an idea that's already raising eyebrows. 
"I wouldn't want my tax dollars going toward that," said Charlotte resident Jake Good.
But the city may have little choice.
The city owns the arena but its contract with the Bobcats calls for the team to use the arena essentially for free, control events and concessions and keep the profits.
But that contract also requires the city to begin paying for renovations beginning this year.
In fact, the lease agreement said that the team can request upgrades if new amenities appear in 50 percent of other NBA arenas. 
Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble said the arena hosts many events -- nearly 150 a year.
It's important for the city to make sure it remains state-of-the-art. 
"We have to figure out how to keep the building modern, keep it functional, keep it competitive and keep it economically viable," Kimble says.
Some City Council members said they're concerned about public reaction, especially after controversial votes to spend millions of tax dollars on the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Knights venues. 
Still, Councilwoman Claire Fallon admitted the city's contract could require millions more to pay for the Bobcats' requests. 
"I think we need to do what we need to do, that the contract says we have to do and everything else has to be looked at," Fallon said.
The city insists it will be looking closely at the Bobcats' requests. 
"Every one of those will have to be justified with some very detailed information and we're just at the beginning of the process," Kimble said.