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The Charlotte Arena and Uptown Development

by Barry Silberman

September 3,2004

Now that the arena is magnificently rising from the ground and starting to take its
structural form, one might wonder: what other concerns does an arena manager have?

One of the greatest potential opportunities resulting from the development of the arena is in the realm of future development maximization for the City. Because of its advantageous location in Uptown, the arena is poised to be a magnet for all types of exciting residential, retail and dining concepts. What makes an area magical? What karma must exist in order to create a great, world-class location that people want to visit? Although I feel I have important insights into those answers, stakeholders around the arena have been and are continuing to focus on the topic of how to manage that growth.

What could the neighboring area look like? Who would go there? What can bring people there? What do people enjoy in public spaces? What supportive infrastructure is needed? How can it be a seamless location? What do people value? What are their needs? These are just a few of the questions that this group will be addressing. How do you go about the process?

Working in Charlotte for 19 months has given me the belief that this is a can-do community of individuals that enjoy the challenge of trying to make things great. Center City Partners has served all of us well as the rallying point for forward-thinking planning. Not only have national and internationally acclaimed experts been attacking these issues to date, but local and national urban planners are now fine-tuning these early and preliminary concepts.

As a sports facility executive for more than 30 years, I have seen some instances in which these areas have proven to be incredibly successful and others that have been boringly dull and lifeless. I have spent the last ten years participating in a plethora of seminars in which best practices, best concepts and best projects are presented by all types of consultants, architects, retailers, and sports executives. The common threads among the great successes are that they are seamlessly integrated not only physically but psychically with their own cities. What works in one city stylistically cannot automatically be replicated in another city. In the sports world, we use the reference of an offense that takes what the defense gives you. A successful plan in Charlotte has to embrace these concepts in its own unique way.

That¹s what I have been thinking about ever since I started my job with the Bobcats. Look to these cities that have done it right: San Francisco, San Diego, Denver, and Baltimore with their baseball stadia. When you visit, you can see the contiguous development and vibrancy that is in the air. We have an incredibly unique opportunity at hand. All great ideas are welcome. Let¹s hear yours.

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