Spectrum Center (formerly Charlotte Bobcats Arena and Time Warner Cable Arena) is an indoor arena located in center city Charlotte, North Carolina. It is owned by the city of Charlotte and operated by its main tenant, the NBA's Charlotte Hornets. Opened in October 2005, the arena seats 19,077 for NBA games but can be expanded to seat up to 20,200 for college basketball games.
The arena was originally intended to host the Charlotte Hornets in the early 2000s. The Hornets' arena, the Charlotte Coliseum, was outdated despite being only 13 years old. The team wanted a new arena closer to the city with amenities found in arenas built after the Coliseum. In 2001, a non-binding public referendum for an arts package, which included money to build the new uptown arena, was placed on the ballot for voters; it was placed in order to demonstrate what was believed to be widespread public support for new arena construction. The arts package would have been funded with the issuance of bonds by the city. This resulted in opposition, with many feeling that the city should not fund a new arena at all due to the Coliseum's relatively young age. Then mayor Pat McCrory vetoed a living wage ordinance just days before the referendum. As a result, Helping Empower Local People, a grass-roots organization supporting a living wage, launched a campaign to oppose the arena, arguing that it was immoral for the city to build a new arena when city workers didn't earn enough to make a living. The referendum failed with 43% for building the arena and 57% opposed.
City leaders then devised a way to build a new arena that did not require voter support, but let it be known that they wouldn't consider building it unless then-Hornets' owner George Shinn sold the team. While even the NBA acknowledged that Shinn had alienated fans, NBA officials felt such a statement would anger other team owners. As it turned out, the NBA approved the Hornets' application to move to New Orleans. However, the league promised that the city would get a new team—which became the Bobcats—as part of the deal. The total cost of the arena to Charlotte and Mecklenburg County was not known, but estimated at around $260 million. The construction was approved by the city council, which did not opt to present another referendum to the public.
The arena opened as the Charlotte Bobcats Arena on October 21, 2005, costing $265 million. Architects hoped the building would bring the city together, as its location and large outdoor plaza, among other features, would suggest. The building's concourses and open design, plus artwork throughout also suggests the concept of community and socializing. One major feature of the arena was its original center-hung scoreboard, which was not only the largest scoreboard in any NBA arena when it debuted, but also featured a one-of-a-kind light-up 360 degree 3D mural of the Charlotte skyline. In early 2006, the arena became the subject of controversy when the Bobcats charged a $15,000 fee to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for graduation ceremonies held at the building. The fee was eventually waived following media attention from a local newspaper. Many high schools in the area moved graduations to Bojangles' Coliseum.
On April 8, 2008, the Bobcats announced a naming rights deal with Time Warner Cable, the area's largest cable television provider, renaming the venue Time Warner Cable Arena. As part of the deal, TWC shuttered its poorly-performing regional sports network C-SET (which was established to serve as the Bobcats' rights holder) and allowed the team to negotiate a new deal with Fox Sports South to ensure wider distribution of its games. Following Charter Communications' purchase of TWC, the arena was renamed Spectrum Center, in accordance with Charter's trade name for its cable services.