Charlotte Hornets’ home arena changing name to Spectrum Center

This is an exterior rendering of the new Spectrum Center signage.
This is an exterior rendering of the new Spectrum Center signage.

Goodbye Time Warner Cable Arena, hello Spectrum Center.

The Charlotte Hornets will announce Wednesday that the team’s uptown home is changing its name following Charter Communications’ purchase in May of Time Warner Cable, Charlotte’s dominant cable provider.

Spectrum is Charter’s digital brand that provides TV, Internet and voice services.

The name change is slated to take place before the season starts at the end of October, Hornets President Fred Whitfield told the Observer. That’s earlier than when Time Warner Cable customers will notice a name change for their cable services, a switch that is expected to take place next year.

The new name will appear all over the arena, including on the new scoreboard, on the court, on exterior signage and in smaller spots like business cards and letterhead. It’s typically incumbent upon the sponsor to pay for such alterations.

“There will be hundreds of different places that we’ve got to make these changes,” Whitfield said.

The Hornets’ home arena has carried the Time Warner Cable name since the team entered into a 20-year naming rights agreement in 2008 with the cable provider.

The revenue stream, which industry sources say is worth more than $5 million per year, benefits the team. Before the naming rights deal, the arena was known as Bobcats Arena, after the franchise’s previous name.

The team says it makes sense to change the arena’s name now, ahead of changes for consumers, because the arena isn’t currently in use, and the team is also in the process of adding a massive new $7 million scoreboard that will bear the arena’s new moniker.

The name change is unrelated to the construction project underway at the arena, Hornets executives say. In 2014, the city of Charlotte agreed to pay $27.5 million toward arena improvements, many of which are required under an agreement with the Hornets, who operate the arena for the city.

Stamford, Conn.-based Charter closed on its $55.1 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable in May. Charter had said the Time Warner Cable name would eventually be retired, but the company hadn’t given a timetable for rechristening the arena.

Time Warner Cable says it has about 480,000 customers in the Charlotte market, making it the city’s biggest cable provider.

“Time Warner Cable will continue offering its current suite of services to customers in the Charlotte area. In the coming months, we’ll introduce the Spectrum brand,” said Charter spokesman Patrick Paterno.

Charter has said it will contact customers directly to let them know when they will start to see the company’s Spectrum brand, product enhancements and new packages.

“Strategically it’s a good play for them. It’s a great way to get some name recognition prior to rolling the brand out,” said Pete Guelli, the Hornets’ chief sales and marketing officer.

The Spectrum Center name will make Philadelphia sports fans recall the Spectrum, the former home of the 76ers and Flyers. That arena, since demolished, once carried the names of Charlotte banks First Union and Wachovia.

Staff writer Rick Rothacker contributed.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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