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Hurricanes Seek Changes in Potential PNC Arena Lease Extension

Carolina Hurricanes

As they discuss a potential PNC Arena lease extension, the Carolina Hurricanes are pushing for some changes–including more favorable economics and greater scheduling flexibility. 

PNC Arena has been home to both an NHL franchise and NCAA Men’s Division I basketball program since its 1999 opening, as it hosts both the Hurricanes and N.C. State Wolfpack. The Hurricanes are committed to the venue under a lease that runs through 2024, and the club and PNC Arena owner Centennial Authority are set to negotiate a possible extension.

As part of the existing agreement, the Hurricanes pay the authority $2.45 million in annual rent and receive the right to manage PNC Arena. The Hurricanes want to see some changes in a possible extension, however, as the club contends that its profits have not been what was hoped for when that agreement was first struck. In addition, the Hurricanes will seek increased scheduling flexibility, because the organization feels that the current arrangement giving N.C. State priority leads to potentially lucrative event dates going unused. More from the News & Observer:

Under the current arrangement, the Hurricanes pay the Centennial Authority $2.45 million in rent in return for use by the hockey team and the right to manage the arena, making money by booking concerts, conventions and the like. But the Hurricanes have never been able to generate the kind of profits envisioned operating the arena, in part because despite its growth Raleigh still isn’t at the same level as big-city metropolitan markets, in part because the team has struggled in recent years.

The Hurricanes also argue that while their lease was generally an industry-standard deal when the building opened, it no longer is 20 years later.

“If you look around the league, for public buildings, we’re at the bottom of the league,” Hurricanes president Don Waddell said. “It’s nothing that anyone did wrong. Those were the times back in the ‘90s. But if we’re going to be a sustainable franchise in this marketplace for a long time, the lease plays an important role. The economics of the deal have to change in our favor.”

The Hurricanes will also be pushing for more scheduling flexibility, something that’s been a sore spot in the past with N.C. State. The university has scheduling priority, but because the NHL schedule is prepared over the summer and the ACC basketball schedule isn’t finalized until the fall, key weekend dates are often left blocked by the Wolfpack that end up being released too late to book concerts.

That will be left to the Hurricanes and incoming N.C. State athletic director Boo Corrigan, Centennial Authority chairman Thomas McCormick said.

The Centennial Authority voted last Thursday to hire a consultant from CAA Icon to consult on its end of negotiations with the Hurricanes. Discussions also come at a point where officials are exploring what is expected to be a sizable renovation package for the facility, one that could result in several upgrades to fan amenities.

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