PNC Arena gears up for a major transformation

The interior and exterior of Raleigh’s largest indoor venue will soon be renovated. Plus, a new development could be built on its property.

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PNC Arena opened in October 1999.

Courtesy of the Centennial Authority

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PNC Arena, a 23-year-old multi-purpose event venue (and home to the Carolina Hurricanes and the NC State men’s basketball team), could see some major changes in upcoming years. A recent report by consulting firm CAA Icon outlines a possible process for facility renovations and a new real estate development on the venue’s property, adjacent to the arena.

In addition to improving the fan experience, a significant goal of the projects is to encourage the Hurricanes to further extend their lease beyond 2029. Additionally, upgrades would help maintain the arena’s competitiveness with venues such as Charlotte’s Spectrum Center when it comes to attracting highly sought-after performers, like Elton John.

After a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, discussions about renovation plans have been reignited and the process is moving forward.

The renovation

The Centennial Authority — the group that owns and operates PNC Arena — is considering numerous arena renovations, including adding more premium seating and VIP areas, diversifying food and drink options, and creating additional spaces for socializing.

The upcoming refresh will be the arena’s largest renovation since it opened in October 1999. “It will feel like a brand new building,” Centennial Authority Executive Director Jeff Merritt told RALtoday.

PNC’s main entrance, located on the arena’s south end across from Carter-Finley Stadium, will look the most different after the renovations. The indoor/outdoor plaza will be expanded to improve entry to the arena and increase socialization opportunities — there could even be a rooftop bar.

There will also be more space dedicated to food and drink to make the arena a culinary experience. Read: Craft beer and chef-crafted menus. Other priorities include expanding the Hurricanes’ team store and expanding concourses around the arena to disperse crowds and shorten lines.

The Authority is also discussing adding a sportsbook for betting inside of the arena, which is dependent on the legalization of mobile sports betting in NC.

The cost

In 2020, the renovations were estimated to cost up to $250 million, but this has likely changed due to inflation, Jeff said. The new (likely higher) cost will be updated once specific plans have been laid out.

Most of the funding is expected to come from the Wake County Hospitality Tax — a 6% tax on hotel and motel stays and 1% tax on prepared food.

A rendering of possible renovations to be made to PNC Arena.

A rooftop bar could be added to PNC Arena.

Courtesy of RATIO Architects

An entertainment district

Another part of CAA Icon’s report outlines processes surrounding the development of an “entertainment district” adjacent to the arena. Although the overall vision of the district is still being assessed, it could include hotels, retail shops, restaurants, offices, residences, and another concert venue.

It has not yet been determined how much of the ~80 acres of land surrounding the arena will be developed.

What’s next?

A detailed plan of the renovations, including the cost of the project and renderings, will be presented to the Authority’s board as soon as January. If passed, parties that have agreements with the Authority (such as NC State and the North Carolina Department of Administration), and other stakeholders will have to approve the process.

No timeline for the multi-phase renovation and development project has been determined yet.

Asked

What would you like to see added to PNC Arena? What do you think needs to be improved? What would you like to see in a new development built around the arena? Let us know.

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