Gov. Roy Cooper’s signing of House Bill 347 last June ushered in online sports betting and retail betting at eight pro-sports venues in North Carolina.
But what would the price tag be for one of North Carolina’s eight new stadium sportsbooks?
This would depend on whether the sportsbook will be built from the ground up or whether an existing space in the stadium will be refurbished.
To get an idea of what the cost of an NC retail sportsbook at a sporting venue might be, NCSharp compared the costs of in-stadium sportsbooks in other states.
Comparable stadium sportsbooks in the US
The new North Carolina online sports betting law allows for retail sportsbooks, or “places of public accommodation,” at sports venues, including NBA, NFL, NHL, PGA and NASCAR venues.
To get a sense of what it would cost to build a stadium retail sportsbook in North Carolina, here are three pro sports venues with retail sportsbooks and how they compare to NC sports venues.
United Center: Chicago, IL & PNC Arena: Raleigh
PNC Arena in Raleigh, where the Carolina Hurricanes and the NC State Wolfpack men’s basketball team play, has major expansions planned for the whole arena. PNC offers 20,917 and 19,717 seats for basketball and hockey, respectively.
Raleigh City Council and Wake County commissioners approved $300 million for upgrades to the 24-year-old sports complex. A portion of that money will go to constructing a retail sportsbook.
Plans for improvements have included the retail sportsbook as part of a “grand entrance” at the south end of the arena.
To get an idea of what the cost of building a sportsbook at PNC Arena might be, we can take a look at how much it costs at a comparable stadium.
Chicago’s United Center, home to the Bulls and the Blackhawks, has a seating capacity of 19,500 for basketball and 18,680 for ice hockey.
The United Center’s sportsbook, the FanDuel Lounge, is situated in the Atrium. The Atrium is a two-story, 13,000-square-foot structure housing the sportsbook, retail space and other fan-focused experiences. It opened in 2022.
The Atrium sits directly adjacent to the arena and the FanDuel Lounge addition cost around $6.3 million to build. While the FanDuel sportsbook is not technically an in-stadium sportsbook, as an addition to the larger Atrium, the cost provides a good example of what Raleigh is looking at to include a sportsbook in a redesigned grand entrance.
State Farm Stadium: Glendale, AZ & Bank of America Stadium: Charlotte
Bank of America Stadium, where the Carolina Panthers and MLS’s Charlotte FC play, is also undergoing major overhauls, likely including a retail sportsbook.
A prime example to follow sits 2000 miles west in Glendale, AZ. Industry giant BetMGM got together with the Arizona Cardinals to create the first sportsbook on NFL stadium grounds.
Opened in 2022 within the State Farm Stadium grounds, the nearly 17,000-square-foot book seats up to 500 people and features more than 25 betting kiosks, a 265-square-foot Video Wall and 38 additional TVs.
The two-story venue combines the energy and viewing options of a sports bar with all the amenities of a world-class sportsbook.
BetMGM’s CEO Adam Greenblatt cut the ribbon to the new sportsbook last year. When asked what it cost to build, he declined to say precisely but put the price tag at seven figures.
Given that it was a newly built standalone edifice and not a refurbished space within the stadium structure, it’s safe to assume the figure lies between seven and nine million dollars.
A Bank of America Stadium sportsbook on stadium grounds is not out of the question. David Tepper, owner of the Panthers and Charlotte FC, has been searching for funding to build out The Bank. He’s asked local government for $600 million to fund his plans, but the Charlotte City Council hasn’t agreed.
If he finds the necessary funding, The Bank has the space to accommodate a new sportsbook on the north side grounds.
Wrigley Field: Chicago, IL & Spectrum Center: Charlotte
We head back to Chicago for another comparable venue: the historic Wrigley Field ballpark on the city’s north side. While North Carolina does not yet have an MLB team, DraftKings Sportsbook adjacent to Wrigley Field provides a comparable location for the Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets.
The oldest ballpark in the National League signed a $100 million deal with DraftKings back in 2019 to become the first MLB stadium with a sportsbook.
Designed by architectural firm Gensler, the sportsbook is a separate building that sits next to Wrigley Field and cost DraftKings $25 million to build.
The Spectrum Center and Wrigley Field are both situated in busy areas where space is at a premium. Taxpayers have already agreed to fund $215 million worth of renovations to the Spectrum Center, and a sportsbook could be part of that. Hornets President Fred Whitfield said it is”too soon to say whether a sportsbook will be part of the arena or built nearby.”
Suppose the Hornets elect to build a sportsbook adjacent to the stadium. In that case, the DraftKings Sportsbook at Wrigley provides a good example of how 17,000 square feet of floor space and 670+ person occupancy can fit onto a tight street corner location.
Which online operators will build retail sportsbooks in NC?
Changes made to North Carolina’s sports betting law under the 2023-2024 state budget act require all online operators to secure a “written designation agreement” with one of the state’s sports betting entities to apply for a sports betting license.
This change gives the state’s pro sports teams the role of gatekeeper to the industry. It further stipulates that only the online operator that signs the written designation agreement with the pro sports entity can build a retail sportsbook on or adjacent to that team’s property.
There is no requirement for an online operator to open a retail sportsbook with its partnered pro sports team. Still, we expect that top national brands will be the ones to open retail sportsbooks, especially if it involves paying for some or all of the seven- to eight-figure sums required to build them.
Image Credit: Chuck Burton / AP Images