Under North Carolina’s new sports betting law, PNC Arena in Raleigh, home of the Carolina Hurricanes, has the green light to develop retail sportsbooks, deemed “places of public accommodation” under the law, at or near the arena.
With the passage of House Bill 347, the state earmarked eight sports venues that can serve as sportsbooks, and those sites can now work to renovate and, in some cases, create new construction to be ready for bettors.
The eight venues receiving retail sports book authorization are:
- PNC Arena in Raleigh;
- Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte;
- Charlotte Motor Speedway;
- North Wilkesboro Speedway;
- Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte;
- Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro;
- Spectrum Center in Charlotte; and
- WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary
The online sports betting launch window opens on Jan. 8, 2024, and closes June 14, 2024, a year after the bill was signed into law. NCSharp is looking at each of these locations and the changes that will need to be made, as well as how retail sports betting will enhance the fan experience.
The timing lines up for PNC Arena
Opened in 1999, PNC Arena was already due for a facelift – lobbied by Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL – so the timing for facility upgrades that include retail sports betting couldn’t be better. Approved by the Centennial Authority, renovations to PNC Arena, per WNCN-TV Channel 17 Raleigh, are slated to begin early next year, but the passage of HB 347 could potentially hasten that timeline to accommodate the venue’s inclusion in expanded North Carolina sports betting.
One of the hangups that could complicate matters, however, is Hurricanes’ owner Tom Dundon’s desire for ‘ancillary development’ outside of the arena, which requires additional funding and approval of other stakeholders. So while all agree that PNC Arena should and will receive upgrades, the full tab and timeline are still a bit murky.
Hurricanes General Manager Don Waddell recently joined the “Ovies + Giglio Show” to discuss the planning so far, made a point that the team is pressing forward with retail sports betting at PNC and emphasized the need for a development partner.
“We’ll put out an RFP in the next week, ten days,” Waddell said, “and give everybody 30 days or so to get back to us and then we’ll probably do some one-on-ones with presentations and so on. The sooner we can get it done, the better for all of us.
We hope to have our partner in place here in the next couple of months, because there’s lots of planning to do. Where are we going with it, initially — we’ve got enhancements for the building, which there’s a great plan for building out the sportsbook — but temporary, how do we go about that? Do we do it inside the building, do we do it outside the building? Those are all things we have to have a partner in place before those decisions can be made.”
The new bipartisan legislation signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper permits approved sports venues to establish retail sportsbooks in two locations: inside the facility and within a half-mile of the facility. So, acquiring a development partner is a priority in moving forward at PNC.
Upgrades will improve the overall fan experience
Along with potentially building out two retail sportsbooks, PNC’s overall upgrades – if built out to team owner Tom Dundon’s overall vision – will greatly enhance the fan experience at PNC Arena. The Centennial Authority heard proposals from a number of designers earlier in the year that detailed ideas for the venue’s makeover.
“This is the time to be bold,” Centennial Authority board vice chairman Kieran Shanahan told WRAL. “This is the opportunity. Those who have been in the trenches for 20 years trying to get the city and the county and the state to line up, the stars appear to be lined up.”
Pitched ideas included an expansion to the north and south sides of the arena, as well as premium zones on the arena, mezzanine and concourse levels. Enhanced food and beverage options are on the menu, with a proposed plan for grab-and-go stations and a full bar to view the game or event.
The upgrades to PNC Arena, along with the inclusion of a retail sportsbook, will have a fan-focused design to get the most out of the makeover.
Where would the sportsbook go at PNC Arena?
The proposal drawn up by Ratio/HOK architects includes plans for a “grand entrance” lobby at the south end of the arena.
Within this reimagined grand entrance is room for a 4,000-square-foot sportsbook and, as reported by The News & Observer, “a rooftop bar with a ‘view terrace’ on the upper level at the south end facing Carter-Finley Stadium.”
A boost to revenues is in the offing
An area where the Hurricanes and its fans are in line to benefit from legal sports betting is the boost to the team’s overall revenue.
NHL team and personnel operations are governed by a salary cap which is determined by league-wide revenues. With a wave of states swiftly approving sports betting legislation in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2018 Murphy v. NCAA decision, those with NHL teams have received enhanced revenue — which inflated player price tags across the league. The ‘Canes can now contribute to the league at a perceived higher revenue level due to an influx of sports betting money.
Fans want a product worth watching on the ice, and heavier pockets usually determine product quality.
Legal sports betting is at least six months away in North Carolina, but PNC Arena is full-speed-ahead on needed renovations and a sportsbook buildout. While the timeline has not been firmly established, the end result will be a benefit for PNC, The Hurricanes, and North Carolina hockey fans alike.
Image Credit: Chris Seward / AP photo