Canes Now

Update on Canes’ lease negotiations called positive by Centennial Authority chairman

The Centennial Authority received a lengthy update Friday — behind closed doors — on the ongoing lease negotiations with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes’ lease for the use of PNC Arena expires in 2024. The authority, the arena landlord, has hired CAA ICON, a strategic management consulting firm, to head up negotiations with Gale Force Sports & Entertainment, the Canes’ parent company.

Authority chairman Tom McCormick characterized Friday’s CAA ICON presentation, which lasted about 90 minutes in a closed session, as “informative and positive.” Asked if he was optimistic about a deal being struck, McCormick said, “Yes, I’m always optimistic. I’m sure we will get this worked out.”

None of the terms of a proposed lease extension are being made public. Nor did McCormick want to guess how long it might take to complete an extension.

“The Hurricanes are operating under an existing lease now, so a lot of that will be up to them and how eager they are to get a new agreement right away, or whether they want to wait a little longer to do it,” McCormick said.

CAA ICON is being paid $25,000 a month by the authority, and the initial contract with the firm was for four months, authority executive director Jeff Merritt said Friday. Merritt said the contract has been extended four months.

Canes majority owner Tom Dundon has been active in the negotiations with Dan Barrett, executive vice president of CAA ICONN. Barrett was the lead negotiator in working out a new 25-year lease between the Seattle Mariners and the Public Facilities District in Seattle.

Barrett and Josh Cohen, a firm vice president, handled Friday’s presentation to the Centennial Authority.

The authority has planned extensive renovations to update 20-year-old PNC Arena, and is hoping to receive about $9 million a year until 2034 in allocations from the hotel and restaurant tax fund. Wake County commissioners and the Raleigh City Council have a made that joint recommendation despite a strong lobbying effort by NC Courage owner Steve Malik and Raleigh developer John Kane, who requested $11 million a year for 30 years to build a new soccer stadium, the centerpiece of “Downtown South,” a $1.9 billion complex in Southeast Raleigh.

The planned changes at PNC Arena, where N.C. State plays its men’s basketball games and shares the arena naming rights revenue, include a rooftop bar and restaurant, additional “income-producing spaces” and other updates.

The authority already has met some of the arena enhancement requests made by Dundon and the Canes for a new scoreboard/video board, 3D projection system and theatrical lighting. The scoreboard is being installed and will be operational next month, Merritt said, and part of the Canes locker room is being renovated.

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.