Proposed PNC Arena renovations could cost $200 million

The Centennial Authority was presented Friday with architectural renderings of an enhanced and renovated PNC Arena.

An 80-minute presentation headed by Bill Browne, president of Ratio Architects of Indianapolis, provided the “new vision” of the arena. The discussion included proposals for a rooftop bar and restaurant on the south end facing Carter-Finley Stadium, the possibility of removing stairwells or suites for more “income-producing spaces” and removing some aisles on the lower level to add more seats.

Late in the presentation came the bottom line: the cost.

The projected construction cost value from the Ratio and HOK architects was an estimated $167.4 million to $201.8 million, with additional costs for planning and fixtures. And the scope of the enhancements would be contingent on the authority, the arena landlord, agreeing on a new lease with the Carolina Hurricanes and its parent company, Gale Force Sports & Entertainment.

“We’ll move forward. The building is always going to be here,” authority chairman Tom McCormick said Friday. “But ultimately what we’re going to be looking for in the near future is an allocation of money which we might be able to get. How much of that we ultimately get will probably depend somewhat on what the guaranteed future of the Hurricanes here is.”

The Canes’ arena lease expires in 2024. McCormick said the authority has “just begun talking” to the Hurricanes on a new lease and have hired a consultant.

Recent arena enhancements, requested by Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon, included the installation of a 3D projection system and theatrical lighting. Plans call for a new scoreboard to be installed before next season.

N.C. State uses the arena for its men’s basketball games and commencement exercises, and the arena has hosted NCAA basketball regionals, concerts and family events.

Money for the arena enhancements would come from Wake County and the City of Raleigh, provided through the Interlocal Agreement, which is funded by the hospitality industry’s hotel/motel and prepared-food tax.

In its response to a request for information for hospitality projects by Wake County, the authority noted PNC Arena will have had a $4 billion economic impact for Wake County since its opening in October 1999. Other projects are being considered.

If approved, the arena construction would begin in 2020, starting with new office space for the Hurricanes and Gale Force staff and additional meeting spaces.

The south end entrance facing Carter-Finley Stadium could potentially be opened up to provide a view into the bowl area, or as Browne said, for fans to immediately feel the arena “experience.”

The PNC Arena enhancement and renovations have been in the planning stage since 2015 and the projected cost then was pegged at about $115 million to $120 million

“There are a few things in this plan that weren’t in that plan then,” McCormick said.

Removing stairwells, removing aisles, adding wider seats, perhaps building lounges on the mezzanine levels below the main concourse level -- there are a number of wide-ranging proposals in the project, not that all will eventually be approved or built.

McCormick, speaking for the authority, said he thought the members “probably would like to do all of them.“

“But it’s money and there are other people competing for it,” McCormick said.

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