Hurricanes’ new PNC Arena lease is ready to be signed. Here’s what comes next

Almost a year after the historic agreements to renovate PNC Arena and develop the land around it, the Centennial Authority and the Carolina Hurricanes appear ready to sign the finalized contracts and get to work.

The authority, which oversees the arena, on Thursday scheduled a special board meeting for June 25 to approve the lease extension with the Hurricanes through 2044 and the agreement allowing Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon to build an entertainment district around it — what Raleigh mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin again on Thursday called the biggest economic development project in the city’s history.

In scheduling the meeting, Authority chairman Philip Isley said he expected lawyers for both sides to have completed their work on the final legal documents by then.

“In concept, yes,” Isley said. “As you can imagine, these are complicated documents.”

Since the term sheets were signed last August, there has been no visible progress either inside or outside the building, but signed agreements will allow the authority to seek approval from the state to issue the bonds necessary to finance the $300 million renovations to the arena itself, while Dundon said his development team — Dallas-based PacElm Properties — has continued to move forward on the assumption the finalized agreements would be completed soon.

“We’ve been operating as if it gets done,” Dundon said. “The amount of work it takes to get prepared for these things is — it’s a lot. … A lot of the work that’s being done is all the stuff that’s no fun. It’s a lot of planning.”

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Last summer’s historic agreements between the authority, city, Wake County, state, Hurricanes and N.C. State secured tourism-tax funding to upgrade the 25-year-old arena while giving Dundon the right to create as much as $2 billion in multi-use development around the building. The first stage of development is expected to be worth $800 million, per last summer’s term sheets.

At Thursday’s board meeting, before the authority approved a $40.6 million operating budget for the fiscal year starting in July, Baldwin presented Isley with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine on behalf of Gov. Roy Cooper, the state’s highest honor, in recognition of his work bringing together the various parties and stakeholders to finally move the arena project forward.

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Representatives of CAA ICON, the authority’s renovation consultants, said that Gensler, the new lead architect for the renovations, is expected to have concept designs and pricing ready for the first phase of the project in July or August. That phase is still expected to be completed during summer 2025 and, at this point, is envisioned to consist largely of infrastructure upgrades to allow more dramatic construction in and around the arena bowl and concourses over the summers of 2026 and 2027.

“It may not be as sexy, but it’s meaningful because it allows us to do cool stuff later,” Isley said. “And there could be sexy things in the first phase. We won’t really know until we price things out.”

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