Charlotte Voters Reject Package
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Voters in North Carolina’s largest city rejected Tuesday a $342 million package of sports and cultural projects which would have brought a new downtown arena for the Charlotte Hornets.
Seven projects were included in the nonbinding referendum package, but the one grabbing all the attention was the $205 million sports arena promoted by supporters as the only way to keep the NBA team.
Supporters argued the Hornets, who claim they are losing $1 million a month, would move to another city if the new arena isn’t built.
``I hope the Hornets stay in Charlotte,″ Mayor Pat McCrory said. ``The voters sent a strong negotiating stance that this proposal was not acceptable.″
With all of the city’s 157 precincts reporting, the vote was 57,405 against the package, or 57 percent, to 42,759 in favor, or 43 percent.
Besides the NBA arena, the package would have provided funds for a new downtown minor league baseball stadium, the Mint Museum, the Afro-American Cultural Center, the Discovery Place science museum, Carolina Theater and Theatre Charlotte.
Voters were asked whether they wanted to commit hotel and car rental car taxes and other fees to help finance the cost of building the arena.
During the campaign, supporters insisted the Hornets needed a more modern facility with lucrative luxury boxes. Opponents _ outspent in the public relations campaign by a wide margin _ argued the plan was a taxpayer subsidy of wealthy private businessmen.
Hornets owners George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge had no immediate comment Tuesday night.
City Councilman Ron Autry said he believes the downtown arena is not a dead issue.
``The Hornets have got a business decision to make and so does NBA,″ Autry said. ``I think NBA will have to be patient and give us one more shot, but we’re going to have to remain active.″