CHARLOTTE — Ground was broken Tuesday on land between Bojangles Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte where a new connector facility will be built to “link” the two venues. The connector facility, referred to as “The Link,” will add additional concession space, offices and storage as well as artist corridors for performers to move quickly and easily before and after shows. The facility was approved by Charlotte City Council in July of last year by a 6-3 vote.
The facility will cost an estimated $18.5 million, which will be paid for by the city’s community investment plan that was set aside in 2014. The original plan, for $25 million to be used on an amateur sports complex next to the coliseum, fell through and some of that money has been used for improvements around Bojangles Coliseum, including demolishing a nearby hotel and making improvements on parking. The renovations cost $18 million to upgrade Bojangles Coliseum when the Checkers moved from the then-Time Warner Cable Arena to the historic venue.
Charlotte Checkers Chief Operating Officer Tera Black said she is “very excited” for the project and says it will increase the fan experience. The team’s offices, currently located in the Epicentre entertainment complex in uptown Charlotte, will be relocated to the new “Link” facility, which Black says will save the team money.
Black remains optimistic, with most of the young core still intact, that the Checkers will have a good season. “I think we’re going to be a really good team...it was a great season last year and just a really great group of guys who had great chemistry. I’m anticipating another great year,” says Black.
Black expressed her trust in Charlotte Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci, who will return for a second season. “Mike understands the business from every angle. From the building side, from the coaching side, from the business side. He’s an advocate for everything we are trying to do in the city of Charlotte in addition to growing young hockey players into professional NHL guys. He’s an absolute asset,” says Black. The coaching position has been a carousel since Jeff Daniels left at the end of the 2014-15 season. Coaches Mark Morris and Ulf Samuelsson each left after one season apiece for other opportunities.
Fans will not be able to utilize the facility during the 2018-19 season as it will not be completed until fall of 2019.