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Carolina Hurricanes and Centennial Authority agree to lease extension

The Carolina Hurricanes and Centennial Authority have come to terms on a five-year lease agreement that will keep the team in PNC Arena. With the new lease, the team is looking towards the future with plans for renovations and improvements.

Waddell on Lease Extension
General Manager Don Waddell addresses limited members of the media inside PNC Arena, Thursday, May 28, 2020.
Kaydee Gawlik

“The Centennial Authority, owners of PNC Arena, and Gale Force Sports and Entertainment, L.L.C announced today that the Centennial Authority board has approved a five-year lease extension with the Carolina Hurricanes. The newly negotiated lease states that the Hurricanes will occupy PNC Arena until July 1, 2029,” the Carolina Hurricanes said in a press release.

The plan wraps up one big offseason question for the Hurricanes and allows more attention to be focused onto the team’s future on the ice.

“This is something we’ve been working on for well over a year and I can’t thank Tom McCormick and Centennial Authority enough throughout this process,” said Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell. “It’s been very professional and ongoing and the end result is something that we are both very excited about.”

The new lease agreement gives the Hurricanes the benefit of stability and will go a long way in the team’s larger plans for arena and venue upgrades.

“First, there is a finance expense which is big for the Hurricanes and Gale Force,” Waddell said. “And there’s also the stability. The plan is to expand this building and the property around the building and this lease gives us an avenue to pursue that and also the potential to look and determine what is the best place for this building to be for the future.”

Waddell went on to discuss a bit of the overarching goals involved with the five-year extension but wouldn’t dive into any details in regards to what the team and Centennial Authority have planned. He did mention though, that the planned amenities and design phases should start taking shape within the next 24 months.

“If the decision is made to stay here long term, then all things [in terms of amenities and expansion] would be on the table,” Waddell said. “We’ve talked about the amenities we would need and Centennial Authority has been progressive on getting the plans and spending a lot of money on those plans and ideas. Nothing is going to happen immediately, but in time. A big part of it in this area is trying to build property around the arena. That was talked about when it was built in 1999 and that’s something that Tom Dundon is real excited about to work with Centennial Authority on.”

The Centennial Authority, which is the governing body of the arena and acts as representatives for the local community needs, views the agreement as a win-win for both sides.

“It’s great to get where we are right now, but we have a long way to go,” said Centennial Authority board chair Tom McCormick. “We’ve got to take this term sheet and convert that into an actual contract lease amendment, but it’s the first step to doing that. The Authority believes that the Hurricanes are very important to the community and that’s why we’ve worked really hard to keep them here.

“We love hockey, we love the Hurricanes, but also, having professional sports is certainly one aspect of being a first-class, world-class city. Raleigh is that and continues to be that, so it’s important to keep the Hurricanes here. This now gives the city council, the various government officials, the private sector and the hospitality sector an opportunity to decide ‘Do we want to spend a lot of money here, either in this building or in a new building here, or something else to meet our arena needs,’ but we’re happy with this deal.”

McCormick expanded that there never felt like much rush to come to a deal.

“We didn’t have any discussions if they were going to move and there was never a threat that they were going to move,” McCormick said. “Obviously, it’s still in the back of everybody’s minds. The team is a business, and that’s the reality if a business is not working for whatever reason, whether it’s the location or the lease or any reason of market. But, we’re happy they’re here.”

McCormick on Lease Extension
Centennial Authority board chair, Tom McCormick, answers questions about the extended lease between PNC Arena and the Carolina Hurricanes, Thursday, May 28, 2020.
Kaydee Gawlik

When Tom Dundon became the team’s majority owner at the start of 2018, there were many who were worried if the new owner would invest in the long-term stability of the team in Raleigh, but this new deal eases many of those worries.

“I think [Dundon] has learned now to appreciate the market better than initially,” Waddell said. “When he came in, the franchise, from a tenant and business standpoint, was struggling. He only does things one way and he said we’re going to invest into this business and Dundon has put a lot of money into this team. Our payroll this year was one of the higher ones in the league and that’s an investment you have to make to know whether you are going to show up or not. We’ve got a lot going for us not only in Raleigh but the Triangle area and I think with plans of renovating this building, we’re all excited about that.”