The city of Charlotte is asking the city council to approve $27.5 million in upgrades to the Hornets‘ nine-year-old arena — the NBA’s third-newest building — on the grounds that hey, it could have been worse:
In March, the Hornets asked the city to also spend roughly $6 million to renovate suites and $600,000 to refurbish the Hornets’ locker room.
Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble said the city pushed back against spending taxpayer dollars on those expenses, even though he said the team could have had a legal case that those particular upgrades are part of the 25-year operating agreement.
“The city didn’t want to pay for home team locker rooms and suite improvements,” Kimble said. “We want to fund (improvements) that the everyday fan can enjoy.”
The problem is that in exchange for the Hornets (then Bobcats) owners agreeing to severe penalties for breaking their lease and going elsewhere, as the old Hornets (now Pelicans) did when they bolted for New Orleans, Charlotte agreed to a lease clause that requires the city to keep the arena among the NBA’s most modern — which is effectively a blank check for the Hornets to bill the city for anything that the guy down the road has in his arena.
Kimble told council members he believes the city could not spend any less.
“I feel like this is the lowest amount (we could spend) under the contract,” he said.
All together now: Friends don’t let friends sign state-of-the-art clauses.