RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — While talks about an upgrade to PNC Arena originally started in 2014, they were put on pause at the onset of the pandemic in 2020.
Now, the Centennial Authority, the board that governs the arena, is full steam ahead with plans for a major renovation project.
The board could have up to $300 million to spend on the overhaul.
Money for the project would be pulled from the county-city interlocal fund, generated through hospitality tax dollars. Tax revenues from hotels and prepared food and beverage are typically used for projects supporting arts, cultural, sports, or conventions.
In the last fiscal year, $66 million were generated for the fund.
Wake County and the City of Raleigh are responsible for oversight and approval for uses of the money. County commissioners and city council are responsible for taking a final vote for the use of those funds.
At a stakeholders meeting on Friday, managers for the county and city recommended spending $300 million on improvements at PNC Arena. The Centennial Authority would get $21.3 million a year over 25 years for the project.
The authority receives $9 million every year from the hospitality tax. The county and city managers recommend they continue to receive that amount through at least fiscal year 2029.
It’s unclear how far $300 million will go.
Ratio Design, hired to lead the visioning process, has presented a menu of potential options for the renovation. They include constructing more permanent food or drink stands and a view bar. Other ideas include enhancing the lobby entrances to better filter crowds, creating more social spaces and building an outdoor event space. The authority is considering a new entry from Wake Park Boulevard.
It’s up to the board to make the final list of must-haves but that has been tricky without knowing how much they can spend. With a new idea of what their budget could be, the board could develop a more realistic view of what is possible to do.
Even if there were an unlimited budget, Jeff Merritt, executive director of the Centennial Authority, has told CBS 17 they can’t do it all.
“We put everything into the funnel. Now, we’re turning it and trying to figure out which one of those things needs to come out,” Merritt previously said.
The next step is for both the city council and county commissioners to agree to the spending. Final votes could happen before the end of September.
Red Hat Amphitheatre move
Council members and commissioners will have more to vote on than just PNC. Also being recommended is a relocation of Red Hat Amphitheatre to make way for a convention center expansion.
County and city managers recommend allocating up to $387 million to do that.
Kerry Painter, the general manager and director of the Raleigh Convention and Performing Arts Complex, presented expansion plans to the Wake County Board of Commissioners in February. An update of the building would double the capacity of the facility.
Painter told commissioners that although the convention center helped set an all-time record for the number of hotel room nights booked in downtown Raleigh, they had to turn away business because of their capacity limits.
The plan calls for the expansion of the convention center and the relocation of Red Hat Amphitheater to create a two-square-block destination for meetings, events, and entertainment.
Plans include the addition of:
- 500,000-square-feet of meeting space;
- 50,000-square feet and 30,000-square-feet flex halls for hosting large events or for breaking up into smaller areas; and
- A capacity of 20,000 people (double the current capacity).
An initial project put the estimated cost at up to $425 million.