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Charlotte Hornets add perks to make for a more inclusive arena ahead of All-Star Game

The Charlotte Hornets have installed a freestanding lactation pod designed by the company Mamava, which specializes in the creation of private rooms for breastfeeding mothers. The 4-foot by 8-foot pod is located on the concourse outside section 107
The Charlotte Hornets have installed a freestanding lactation pod designed by the company Mamava, which specializes in the creation of private rooms for breastfeeding mothers. The 4-foot by 8-foot pod is located on the concourse outside section 107

Ahead of the NBA All-Star Game next month, the Charlotte Hornets have added two in-arena amenities that they say will help cater to fans who are breastfeeding and fans who have sensory sensitivities.

Recently added at the Spectrum Center uptown is a small room for nursing mothers, the Hornets said in a statement Monday. In addition, the Spectrum Center is now certified as a sensory inclusive venue, meaning the arena provides special equipment and assistance to anyone overwhelmed by the loud noises and other stimulation at the arena.

Spectrum Center General Manager Donna Julian said the roll-out of the two initiatives is meant to make the arena more inclusive and accommodating for fans.

“It was the right thing to do,” Julian told the Observer.

The Hornets said they installed a freestanding lactation pod designed by the company Mamava, which specializes in the creation of private rooms for breastfeeding mothers.

The Spectrum Center location is the first Mamava pod in Charlotte. As the name of the Novant Health Lactation Suite suggests, it is sponsored by the longtime Hornets partner, Novant Health.

The 4-foot by 8-foot pod is on the concourse outside section 107, according to the statement. It has benches, a fold-down table, an electrical outlet for breast pumps and a lockable door. It is meant for individual use, but has space for more than one person — including mothers with other children.

To achieve its sensory inclusive designation, the team worked through a nonprofit called KultureCity, which works with people with sensory-processing needs, such as autistic children. As part of the program, the Hornets will have sensory bags that include noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads available at the Guest Experience Booths outside sections 102 and 208.

Additionally, according to the Hornets, arena staff members have been trained to recognize fans with special sensory needs.

KultureCity has worked with establishments nationwide on sensory inclusiveness, from Oracle Arena, home of the Golden State Warriors, to the South Carolina Aquarium.

“Our goal is that everyone be able to enjoy an event in our building, and thanks to Mamava and KultureCity, we have eliminated potential impediments to that for these two groups,” Julian said in the statement.

The NBA All-Star weekend takes place Feb. 15-17.

As the retail and sports business reporter for the Observer, Katie Peralta covers everything from grocery-store competition in Charlotte to tax breaks for pro sports teams. She is a Chicago native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame.

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