Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon made his first formal appearance Thursday before the Centennial Authority, the appointed body that oversees PNC Arena.
Dundon’s visit was well-received. As authority chairman Tom McCormick said, “Tom doesn’t know this, but he has now set the all-time record for appearances by a Hurricanes owner at an authority meeting.”
For Dundon and the Hurricanes, there were items of importance on the agenda, the most pressing being installing a new center-hung scoreboard at PNC Arena for the 2018-19 season.
Dundon wants a scoreboard that extends blue line to blue line, one that could cost about $7 million. The authority had a scoreboard in the projected budget for 2019-20 but agreed to consider fast-tracking and having it in place next season for Hurricanes games and N.C. State basketball games.
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“Some of these things are pretty spectacular and would a great asset,” McCormick said. “Again, can we afford it? … I think everybody agrees it’s a good thing to have in this building.”
Another less costly proposal made by Dundon and Gale Force Sports & Entertainment, the Hurricanes umbrella company, was a collection of data from Wi-Fi users in the building.
Gale Force asked that users be asked to provide first and last names and valid email address or log-in for their Facebook or Linkedin credentials. The emails would be used by the Hurricanes and N.C. State to update users on future events at PNC Arena or other event information.
The proposal was to spend $7,500 for data capture software, with a 30-day trial period before being assessed a $30,000 annual fee. With a heavy PNC Arena schedule in February – 10 home Hurricanes games, beginning Thursday against Montreal – and N.C. State playing five home games in February and early March, a lot of data could be collected.
The Hurricanes also have requested that a new team entrance to the ice be made at the northwest corner of the lower level. The Canes at Tuesday’s game against Ottawa entered through the large entrance in the north end used by the Olympia ice resurfacers, allowing a “fan tunnel” to be formed to the ice before the game.
Moving to the northwest corner would shorten the players’ walk, on skates, while keeping the fan tunnel. It could necessitate removing some of the dasherboards.
“The Tom Dundon era is about bringing exciting, new opportunities for the building and we’re excited about the new energy Tom is bringing,” authority member Steve Stroud said.
Players noticed fans
In an interview after the meeting, Dundon said he was pleased with the decision Tuesday to allow fans with upper-level tickets to move to lower-level seats of the game against the Ottawa Senators. The turnout was 11,448 as the Canes won 2-1.
“I talked to a lot of fans and they were excited and appreciative and that’s what you hope, that you do something that you hope is nice for people and they enjoy it,” Dundon said. “The players noticed the difference. When the fans and the players are happy and of course you win, it’s great.”
Asked if would be another “come on down” game, Dundon said, “I’ll have to look at the numbers and see. I hope that organically we fill the lower bowl because the team is having success but there’s definitely a commitment to having energy in that lower bowl.”
Dundon stayed for the 75-minute authority meeting, then talked with a few members individually.
“It’s great that these people care so much and donate their time to the community,” Dundon said. “I appreciate all the work they do and we want to have the best place possible to play.”