RALEIGH — A brand new, state of the art arena -- it was one of Raleigh's biggest selling points in attracting the Carolina Hurricanes. Last month, WRAL-TV5 News raised a question about whether the arena would be ready on time. The Hurricanes heard about our report, and they aren't happy about the delays.
It started with our January 27th story that the contractor can't promise a completion date, or a price tag. That was followed by some finger pointing over who's to blame.
Now, in a letter we've received from a source close to the arena, the owner of the Carolina Hurricanes is firing back. He says he's not paying one cent more, and if the arena is not ready on time, he wants some of his money back.
Despite El Nino, redesigns, and a dose of opposition, construction on Raleigh's Entertainment and Sports Arena is chugging along. But, as we showed you in our story two weeks ago, the contractor can't guarantee the building will be ready for the Carolina Hurricanes 1999 season.
After hearing the arena could be late and could be overbudget, owner Peter Karmanos fired off a sternly-worded letter to the Arena Authority. He writes, "there is no apparent sense of urgency in resolving the problem with the completion date and the final cost. No one seems to be in charge of this effort. Authority members are volunteers. Someone needs to provide leadership."
Steve Stroud is chairman of the Arena Authority. He doesn't think the arena needs new leadership. But, he says major design changes, the weather, and possible environmental violations have hampered the construction process. Now, he has a new promise for both N.C. State Basketball and Carolina Hurricanes Hockey.
Listen toaufile. "I think we'll be finished with the building around the first of August of '99. Give us time to shake the building down and punch it out, and we'll make sure it's ready to go when N.C. State and the Hurricanes open their '99 season."
If the arena is not ready on time, the Arena Authority would owe the Hurricanes reimbursement on rent, and they would also have to pay the additional rent that the team would owe on their temporary home, the Greensboro Coliseum.
Would a debate like this every deter the Hurricanes from moving to Raleigh? According to Karmanos, the answer is an emphatic "no." He still believes that Raleigh can be one of the most-profitable cities in the NHL.