July 17, 2006

RBC Center gets green light for $6.8M overhaul

The home of the Carolina Hurricanes will get a $6.8 million overhaul over the next few years, says Bill Mullins, chairman of the Centennial Authority, which oversees the RBC Center.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved a two-year spending plan that includes the arena upgrades. The vote came less than a week after the Raleigh City Council voted unanimously in favor of the plan.

The facility upgrades will include a revamped sound system for the facility's lower seating levels, concessions equipment capable of accepting credit cards and a number of renovated suites, according to Judy Britt, assistant secretary for the Centennial Authority.

Funding for the project includes slightly more than $3.14 million in the 2006-2007 year -- from June 1, 2006, through May 30, 2007 -- and about $3.66 million for the following year.

The Centennial Authority will fund the nearly $7 million in upgrades through a capital improvements fund.

As part of a separate set of improvements, the RBC Center is getting a plush private club at the north end of the stadium at a cost of about $1.75 million. The club will accommodate about 300 people. The project is expected to be finished by the middle of September, before the start of the 2006-2007 hockey season, Britt says.

A similar project at the arena's south end was completed prior to the start of the 2005-2006 season at a cost of about $850,000.

Both the north and south end clubs are classified as "revenue-generating amenities," says Centennial Authority Chief Financial Officer Cam Frazier. Funding for the two amenities came from a separate "capital reserve fund" from which the Centennial Authority gets an annual $650,000 appropriation for improvements and projects.

At 770,000 square feet, the RBC Center seats more than 18,000 fans for Carolina Hurricanes games and more than 19,700 for North Carolina State University basketball games.