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Hurricanes Pitch-In to Finish Arena, Again

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RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes told the Centennial Authority Wednesday that they will help raise a large chunk of the money needed to finish the Raleigh arena.

Following a closed door meeting Wednesday afternoon, the Authority says the Hurricanes have at least committed to helping it find the remaining $14 million needed to cover the arena's budget gap.

Right now the project has a total cost overrun of $25 million. The Authority explained how it found itself so short of cash.

The Centennial Authority says the arena's original $66 million price tag was really misleading.

"It was not a multi-purpose arena," Centennial Authority Executive Director Curt Williams said. "It was designed in the late 1980's and priced at that. Although it was never put out to bid, we don't know that it would have cost that."

The plans sat dormant until the mid-1990's. Inflation and the desire for an arena that could serve more than just N.C. State basketball drove the arena's cost up to $112 million.

"They changed the design to make it suitable for minor league hockey, basketball, concerts," Williams said.

Then last year the Carolina Hurricanes stormed into town, requiring further arena improvements, and a new price tag of $132 million.

"The hurricanes came along and said that this building needs to have some changes to make it NHL standard," Williams said.

So how did they get to $157 million?

The Centennial Authority says estimates for the arena's final design were too low, because plans were rushed to get the project moving. However, the design delays and more rain than expected last winter kept the project moving at a slow pace, and now contractors are getting paid extra to accelerate their work.

A source familiar with the project said that with production, labor and getting the project started, the cost averaged $3 million per month. Now, the average monthly cost will have to double to get the arena finished by next September.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Ron Pittman, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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