Local News

RBC Center Expected To Survive Without Hockey

Posted February 14, 2005 5:33 a.m. EST

— It looks like hockey is in trouble, but leaders say the building where the Hurricanes play is not.

Gale Force Holdings, which operates the RBC Center, has a 24-year lease on the building. It pays $2 million a year in rent to the city and county.

"We are not concerned about the major tenant and the Gale Force Management Company," said Perry Safran, vice-chairman of the Centennial Authority.

Members of the Centennial Authority say even if Gale Force was to pull out of the RBC, the company would still be liable to pay the rent, maintain the building and keep the lights on.

"It doesn't mean anything to the taxpayer. That's the key ingredient here," Safran said.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker also said he is not concerned. He said the $158 million debt on the building is being paid for with money already allocated from the hotel/motel tax. Even without hockey, the city and county expect to get paid.

"The Centennial Authority is a separate entity from the city or county. It does not have taxing authority and has adequate reserves, so it shouldn't be a short-term problem," he said.

Another issue concerning the arena are the use of naming rights. Some experts claim RBC Centura's contract does not allow the bank to back out on the 20-year, $80 million deal. However, it does allow for them to pay $1 million less a year if there is no hockey.

Gale Force Holdings will not make any comments until the official announcement by the NHL comes down. That announcement could happen on Wednesday.