- Pete Dowell
Spectrum Center – Charlotte Hornets
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Spectrum Center 333 E Trade St Charlotte, NC 28202
Year Opened: 2005
Uptown Is What Makes Your Trip Worth It
The Hornets are part of the NBA’s Eastern Conference / Southeast Division. The team played in the Charlotte Coliseum 1988 – 2002. The Hornets franchise was sold to New Orleans in 2002 and became the Bobcats from 2004 – 2013. During the second season of the team being the Bobcats, the team moved into the Charlotte Bobcats Arena 2005 – 2008 which is the current site of Spectrum Center.
The Bobcats Arena had a name change to Time Warner Cable Arena in 2008. In 2014 the Bobcats team once again had a name change and were the Hornets team again. In 2016 Time Warner Cable Arena had a name change and became Spectrum Center. The Hornets / Bobcats have two claims to fame.
The first thing most people know about the Hornets is that Michael Jordan (arguably the best NBA basketball player in history) is the majority owner of the team. Not that Michael Jordan being the owner has helped the team win any games but having Michael Jordan as part of your organization is something for a team to brag about. The second claim to fame is the Bobcats are known as one of the NBA’s worst teams in the league’s history, having held the worst winning percentage for a season in the 2011 -2012 season. The team has had a few all-stars and went to the low round playoffs but never really achieved much. Between not really achieving much and the multiple name changes around the team the Hornets possibly don’t have much of a national presence and don’t have the strongest fan base.
Food & Beverage 4
The food and drinks at the Spectrum Center range from a classic hot dog and a Coke to a turkey sandwich carved to order with fresh veggies on top washed down with a craft beer. The concessions workers are speedy and friendly and keep the lines moving quickly. With the new Hornets app a fan can order and prepay for food and other items and go pick up their order at select sites or have the order delivered to the fans seat in select sections.
No matter your budget there will be something to enjoy during your time at the game. Hot dogs, BBQ, pizza, fries, chicken and snacks, if you want it chances are it can be found at Spectrum Center. High end dining options can be found at the Front Court Club. The Front Court Club offers sit down dining with a chef selected menu.
Drinks are offered fountain style with regular size cups and large Hornets collector cups that give the fan access to unlimited refills. Beer and alcohol are available in multiple areas and at Beer and Whisky carts that can’t be missed.
One of the best items available is the made to order nachos that can be found in the North and South Lounges for the Club Seats. Picture quality ingredients like freshly made tortilla chips, beef, grilled chicken, rice, beans, cheese, and lettuce all laid out in front of you with a server waiting to put together your custom nachos.
Spectrum Center’s atmosphere is worse than ever in this 2019/20 season. With team leader / NBA All Star Kemba Walker leaving the Hornets in free agency at the end of last season the Hornets no longer have an established star to lead the team and wow the fans. It’s hard to explain because some nights the fans are with the team but most nights the fans are there to cheer for the opposing team’s star players. Overall if you like live competitive NBA basketball it can be a boring night out.
Spectrum Center is a beautiful, up-to-date and well-maintained arena. Spectrum Center houses a new and unique scoreboard that was installed in 2016. The scoreboard is uniquely designed and incorporates a honeycomb design along with multiple screens and the Hornets logo and trademark teal color scheme.
The teal team color scheme is throughout the entire arena along with loads of monitors and speakers pumping the latest hits. The arena seats are padded and comfortable and have cup holders. Suites are plush with leather seating, tables, TVs, and a food and drink serving area. Interesting fact: The view from the first rows in the upper levels of the side sections is approximately the same view fans get sitting in the first row of the suites but hundreds of dollars cheaper.
A live DJ spins the latest hits on an above average sound system while Hugo the hornet or his alter ego Super Hugo (Mascot), the Honey Bees (Cheerleaders), the Swarm Squad (Hornets Hype Men), Big Pat (The Announcer), and Jacinda & Ty (Arena Hosts) all try to keep the fans engaged with skits, giveaways and t-shirt tosses. Depending on what night you go to a game, the Hornets organization has free gifts (team bobble heads, team hats, and team posters) for the first couple of thousand fans at the doors and occasionally there are free t-shirts on every seat.
Spectrum Center’s best seating is in Club Sections 104 – 106 and Club Sections 113 – 115. Club Sections give you access to the best views in the arena and in seat food ordering and delivery. Sitting in Sections 113 – 115 will have the floor logo facing you and give fans the best chances for t-shirt tosses and getting selected for fan participation. Sitting in Sections 104 -106 has the home team (section 104) and visiting team (section 106) benches and gives fans a chance to get close to the players and chances are high that a fan will find themselves on Broadcast TV sitting in these sections. T-shirts rarely get tossed over the home and visiting benches.
Spectrum Center is in downtown Charlotte know as Uptown. The neighborhood is wonderful and is loaded with restaurants, bars, shopping, family and nightlife entertainment. A weekend centered on going to a Hornets game in Uptown could consist of parking your car for the entire weekend and staying at one of the many hotels or Airbnb rentals within walking distance, eating at one of many restaurants within walking distance of Spectrum Center for any meal, entertainment day or night at one of the museums, movie theater, musical / play theater, NFL game (Carolina Panthers), carriage rides, and foodie / historic tours all within walking distance of a hotel and the Spectrum Center.
If you are an NFL football fan as well as an NBA basketball fan and were so inclined to stay in Uptown for multiple days, you could attend a NBA game and an NFL game. The Carolina Panthers stadium (Bank of America Stadium) is within walking distance of Spectrum Center and the surrounding hotels. Also, in 2021 MLS season Charlotte will be graced with an MLS soccer team that will be based and play in the Bank of America Stadium with the Carolina Panthers.
Day, night or late night I recommend RedEye Diner for your 24 hr greasy spoon dining needs located less than a quarter of a mile from Spectrum Center in the Epicenter plaza. Try Mert’s Heart & Soul located less than a quarter of a mile from Spectrum Center before or after a game for a delicious soul food meal. I recommend Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – Uptown located less than a quarter of a mile from Spectrum Center after a game not just for the food which isn’t that great but Brixx is a known after game hangout spot for the Honey Bees (Hornets Cheerleaders) and Swarm Squad (Hornets Hype Men) so you might get to meet a local celebrity.
Learn about history, nature and see a film like the latest Star Wars in an IMAX dome at Discovery Place Science museum. Discovery Place Science is located about ½ mile from the arena and is a hands-on science and technology museum that also has a dome IMAX theater that shows documentaries but sometimes shows the occasional action or sci-fi film. If you are an NFL football fan you can’t go wrong visiting a ritzy sky box, touring the visiting team’s locker room or getting some inside Panthers history. The Carolina Panthers stadium (Bank of America Stadium) has public tours of the stadium offered most Wednesdays at 10:00 am and Fridays at 10:00 am and 12:00 pm year-round.
There are multiple lodging options within walking distance of Spectrum Center. I recommend Holiday Inn Charlotte-Center City. It’s a mid-range chain hotel that’s clean, has an in-house restaurant and it’s basically across the street from the arena. I also recommend Hyatt House Charlotte/Center City. It’s a higher-end, mid-range chain hotel that’s clean, close to food and it’s located directly next door to the arena. Something somewhat new to think about is finding a local condo, house or apartment to rent using Airbnb or VRBO. Airbnb or VRBO have great prices considering parking and amenities especially if you will be in town for multiple days.
Hornets fans come in one of two varieties. The diehard Hornets fan who supports the team every night win or lose and most of the attendees who are at the game to see and cheer for the visiting stars like LeBron James, Steph Curry, or James Harden. It’s not unusual to see more visiting team colors during certain games or to hear the people in attendance cheer just as loud for a visiting star. During match-ups with non-star heavy rosters it’s not unusual to have only half the seats of the arena filled.
According to ESPN, the Hornets ranked the 6th worse in NBA attendance last season (2018-2019) which is better than the 2017/2018 season where the Hornets were ranked 5th worse in NBA attendance. My personal eye ball test during games leads me to believe the numbers of people physically in attendance each game maybe lower than the reported numbers. NBA attendance is counted by the number of seats purchased or given away. Many sold out games have plenty of seats open because season ticket holders didn’t make it to the game and tickets that were given away didn’t put fans in the seats.
The Hornets fans only really get involved during big moments and when the team is doing well. The Hornets fans have been known to walk out early during games where the Hornets are not doing well.
Spectrum Center is well laid out and is very accessible inside and outside. There are multiple entrances on the sides of the arena.
Spectrum Center suggests parking at one of the seven park and ride lots within the city and taking the Lynx train to the Trade Street Station at Spectrum Center. For information and prices visit Charlotte Area Transit System.
I recommend parking with your downtown located hotel and walking to the game. If not staying downtown, drive into the downtown area in any direction around the arena where you will find a large amount of parking lots and decks with prices ranging from $5 – $50. When going to the Spectrum Center parking will not be a problem.
There are multiple entrances and ticket handlers. The digital tickets only lines are much shorter than the paper tickets lines. Security is tight but moves very quickly checking your clothing and pockets. Only bags approximately 14″ x 14″ x 6″ will be permitted after a thorough security check with backpacks and duffle bags no longer being allowed no matter the size.
The Spectrum Center main concourse is very large and has a giant entrance to the arena floor in the main concourse area near the team shop, as well as the normal section entrances around the arena. There are clean, large restrooms and multiple vendors and staff to help you get anything or anywhere you want. Handicap fans will have no problem with assistance or mobility in the Spectrum Center.
Return on Investment 3
Spectrum Center is a beautiful arena with helpful staff and sometimes the Hornets and the fans come together and make the price of admission well worth it, but other times the poor play of the team and seemingly not interested fans make you wonder why you paid hard earned money. You never know what experience you are going to get at a Hornets game.
The Hornets are ranked among the most affordable teams to visit. Ticket prices for a Hornets game can range from $15 – $1000+ per seat depending on where you want to sit and what game you want to attend. For non-holiday games and most all games besides (LeBron / Lakers, Steph / Warriors, Harden / Rockets) a fan can sit in the top or middle seating of the best areas (Club Sections 104 – 106 and Club Sections 113 – 115) for approximately $150 or less per seat after finding tickets with second hand ticket vendors like Ticket Monster. Snack prices at Spectrum Center in general are the normal up-charges you will see at most NBA arenas. During the 2018/2019 season a few fan friendly priced items were added to the arena’s menu.
Ticket packages will give a fan a discount. The Hornets Organization has multiple ticket packages to choose from. On select promotion nights a gift (t-shirt, hat, bobble head) is given away to thousands of fans in attendance saving you the fan money on a game souvenir.
Most NBA star heavy games (e.g. LeBron James and the Lakers, Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers) will have to be purchased from second hand vendors like Ticket Monster at prices well above the team price because the seats that are available for general public purchase are usually purchased the day of release and posted on second hand vendors sites at extremely high prices. Many season ticket holders are trying to get as much money as they can for star heavy games to help pay for their season tickets and some people/companies purchase tickets to sell for a profit. The best way to save on experiencing visiting NBA stars at Spectrum Center is to purchase your tickets the day the team releases single game tickets for sale to the public. For more information concerning ticket cost I recommend reviewing a past article on Stadium Journey, How to Get the Best Seats for Your Budget.
The Hornets Organization not only sells their own jerseys, but they sell star players from the entire league jerseys at a kiosk on the main level. I’ve never seen a team sell gear other than their own at any other pro sports game.
The Hornets organization is making a giant push at Spectrum Center to be Green. Spectrum Center is environmentally conscious specifically concerning energy use and recycling. Detailed info can be found at Going Green.
Along with the great venue Spectrum Center provides, the Uptown Charlotte area is world class with just about anything anyone could want in the form of entertainment and food all in short walking distance and a somewhat lower cost of living than many other large cities. More info on Uptown Charlotte can be found at Uptown Charlotte.
Fans visiting Spectrum Center will love the walkable entertainment in the downtown area with almost anything entertainment a person could think of. It is not a stretch to say that what makes a Hornets game at Spectrum Center truly worth it is all the things that Uptown provides a fan before and after a game. With the current roster of Hornets players not playing so well you never know if you are going to see the Hornets play a competitive game but it’s a sure thing that a fan can find a great place to stay, great food and interesting things to do before and after a game. You are not guaranteed a great competitive game at Spectrum Center but it’s almost a guarantee that you will find something enjoyable to do in the surrounding area.