The Charlotte Hornets are in a season of change.
State of play: The team is under new ownership and has some new faces on its roster. Now its home arena, Spectrum Center, will undergo substantial renovations, and the team will get a new practice facility.
Why it matters: Spectrum Center will look “dramatically different” and “feel different” in the next two to three years, Rick Schnall, new co-chairman of Hornets Sports and Entertainment, told reporters at an introductory press conference last week.
- “This arena is a little outdated,” said Gabe Plotkin, new HSE co-chairman, adding renovations will enhance the fan experience. Spectrum Center opened in 2005.
Catch up quick: City council approved $275 million for the Hornets organization last year: $215 million for renovations to the city-owned arena and $60 million for a new practice facility, as Axios previously reported. The deal also keeps the Hornets in the arena through 2045.
- The initially proposed sites for the practice facility were where Charlotte Transportation Center currently is, or in a gravel lot next to the arena.
- “It’s state of the art in the NBA to have a standalone practice facility,” Schnall said.”We do not.”
- The team’s current practice space at Spectrum Center, Novant Health Training Center, faces 5th Street. The goal is to build a practice facility that’s one of the best in the NBA, one where players want to spend their time, Schnall added.
Between the lines: While the deal was made under different ownership, the city funds remain for HSE regardless of who is at the helm.
- “The high-arching deal has not changed,” Tracy Dodson, assistant city manager and economic development director, told Axios.
- The new owners held introductory meetings with Dodson and city manager Marcus Jones last week.
- “While it might be new faces at the table, we expect the same type of partnership moving forward,” Dodson said of their close working relationship with HSE in recent years.
What’s next: The city and the Hornets’ new ownership team will continue conversations about the future practice facility. Nothing has been decided about the facility, Plotkin said, adding that they’re still working through where it will be.
- As for the arena, changes to the back of the house began this summer. “Very major changes” will begin next summer, Schnall said.
- Arena renovations are expected to be complete by the start of the 2025-26 season.
Zoom out: Schnall was part of the Atlanta Hawks’ $192.5-million renovation of State Farm Arena, which was completed in 2018.
- “I kind of learned from watching the Atlanta Hawks [arena] renovation and the practice facility and the power that has on a franchise,” Schnall said.
The bottom line: Schnall said they’re committed to investing in the arena, team, facilities and player development. Now it’s time to see if that translates on the court and at the ticket office.