Monday, October 23, 2006

Arena's impact

In today's print edition of the Charlotte Observer, I wrote a story about the arena's impact on uptown nightlife. For the most part, bar and restaurant owners I interviewed said the arena hasn't been like fruit of the Gods for them, but it's been good for business.

Several people mentioned that the arena doesn't draw many customers to their establishments after events, and I'm wondering what's up with that? I remember after the Rolling Stones concert last year, everybody bounced and uptown felt like a ghost town.

I have a couple of questions. If you party uptown regularly, do you stay away from uptown when there are events at the arena? If so, why?

If you go to events at the arena do you typically hang out uptown? Why or why not? Post your replies below.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

whats up tonya, there are lots of nice spots but the people in this town still don't like to go out, from 22- 62 we lack everyday people going out for dinner or to get a drink. we talk about how little the arena has done for downtown businesses...lets talk about how little downtown residents have patronized the local hot spots. when i lived downtown i never saw my neighbors walking here or there...

Anonymous said...

The whole uptown has a perception about it. Everyone knows what the perception is. That is why the events hardly sell out. Noone wants to come downtown after dark, find convient parking and feel safe. People just do not feel safe in the downtown area. All everyone had to do was to tear the arena down on Tyvola and build a new one in the same spot. Access to and from were easy to I-77 and people could feel safe about going to resturants after the game. The downtown arena is something that was pushed by the media. Now let the media people fill it up. They had a good thing going and they blew it.

Anonymous said...

I believe one of the biggest problems is the lack of street parking. I used to go to uptown all the time and park on the street. Now, all the parking spots have No-Parking signs over them. Also, the increase in crime is a big concern. I rather go to the Dilworth/East Blvd area for dinner and drinks and even Southpark is becoming more appealing.

Anonymous said...

I used to go uptown all the time for dinner and drinks but now you cannot find free parking on the street. Not because there is none available but because the city has blocked all metered spots. This is a major hassle. Also, the increase in crime is a turn off. Peddlers are out of control too. I now spend my weekends around the Dilworth/East Blvd area and even in Southpark where some upscale restaurants with great bars have recently been established.

Anonymous said...

I think it was a ridiculous idea to think that this NBA arena would bring new business. Basketball in general is not a tailgaiting type of sport and the NBA is on a downward spiral. Also, Charlotte has a growing downtown community but it is not yet there. If you go downtown on the weekends, the city is dead, until 8-10 pm.

Maybe 1 day this city will be built for this type of atmosphere. Baseball would fit much better.

Anonymous said...

The Bobcats are not the Hornets! When the Hornets came to town, everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY was excited about it. We all wanted our first professional sports team. Then they left and there was a falling out. Now the Bobcats show up. The city decided to build an uptown arena. WHY? We had two perfectly good arenas. Not only that but the citizens of Charlotte voted and said NO UPTOWN ARENA. Well, you reap what you sow. How could a project that has no real fan base like the Hornets, possible succeed? Maybe Base Ball is the answer. Yeah right!

GOPwolf.

blogger said...

I think the Arena itself competes with the bars and restaurants. It has everything you need: good food, a beer garden, free entertainment, etc. Why go out when you can get all that at the arena. Also, basketball season is cold, and people aren't going to roam around in cold weather. Before the arena was built, uptown nightlife was far more happening in the spring/summer than fall/winter because of the nice weather. The arena is not going to change that.

John said...

I think the problem of keeping uptown alive after events is actually a problem of Charlotte. As I often discuss with others, this city is still very much working class, and most people, if they do attend an event, already have it in their minds to rush home and hop into bed to get ready for work the next day. I don't know when this mentality will change, but clearly it will have to occur for the city to take on completely urban characteristics. I think though that putting an arena uptown is a major step in the right direction.

LaniLaKai said...

My reason for rarely doing anything before or after events uptown or straying from the "center" of uptown is purely the cost of everything. When all of these events started occuring after the arena's opening, all of the parking garages started charging out of the yinyang! When before you couuld park at the Discovery Place, 7th St Station, or the parking garage at Stoolys, you didn't mind walking in a bar and spending $15 on drinks and food. When you've already spent that same $15 on parking the car along with your $20 on the event ticket, spending more money on now "stupid drinks" is out of the question.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the leaders of CO$T, the referendum committee which educated the public about why the uptown arena was a bad idea. So far everything we've said has come to pass, which is why voters overwhelmingly rejected the arena "bundle". We predicted the arena would cost more than the price the politicians stated. We were right. We predicted uptown parking would cost more. We were right. We predicted poor attendance for NBA games. We were right. We predicted new NBA ownership and management would be no different from Shinn & Wooldridge. We were right. We predicted parking and traffic nightmares. We were right. We predicted uptown restaurants and bars wouldn't get the boom in business they were anticipating. Your article proves that once again we were right.

Most people I know avoid uptown except for special events, because parking is no longer free or discounted, and because we don't want to fight arena traffic. Now the covered walkway from the BOA deck to Founders Hall is gone, so a birthday gift of Bill Cosby tickets turned into a wind-and-cold filled ordeal of walking outdoors for my 86-year-old mother.

The uptown pimps and whores running this town need to be thrown out wholesale - starting with McCrory, Tober and Syfert. Dumping billions of dollars into the pockets of criminals like Parsons and billionaires like the NASCAR carnival barkers and Boobcat Johnson will drive this city into the ground.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the arena hurts as much as it helps because it soaks up a lot of the parking, plus, there are very few free spots anymore. Used to be, you could go uptown, park free, and hit restaurants and clubs. Not free any longer. So if I'm just going out to eat, I go elsewhere.

Deathtouptown said...

I believe Charlotte should get rid of the buildings that have been built in the last 10 years and revert to its rural roots. Get rid of the Arena, Bank of America stadium, Discovery Place, all the condos, Wachovia, and Bank of America. Maybe then, all the transplants will leave and Charlotte can then be back to normal. The Arena has been here for 1 year, so it is COMPLETELY CLEAR that it will never succeed. And now they're going forward with plans to build an Epicenter and a cultural arts center? The city must be crazy. Why would you keep moving forward with construction when it's obvious that it's not going to better the area? If the city eliminated the new buildings and shelved future construction, we could then have free parking again.

Anonymous said...

Why don't the Bobcats work with the community to do something like... bring your game ticket to select restaurants for discounts on food and drinks?

Anonymous said...

I am a native Charlottean who left Charlotte in 1999. I have have lived in a number of larger east coast cities and have resided in Washington DC for the past three years. Having lived in Charlotte and several large cities, I have realized that the demograhics of Charlotte don't reflect the type of city that Charlotte claims or desires to be. Charlotte is a town for a older adults or a young family who like occasional entertainment. Charlotte's population is not made up of a majority of young (21-35),unmarried individuals with the disposible income or the time to frequent establisments downtown.

Anonymous said...

I think most people have it right on here, PARKING is one of the main issues. When you want to park near where you are going, you can hardly find any resonable parking prices or parking spots at all. I used to venture uptown, park for free, eat dinner, then walk around, hit the bars etc. But, with so many places charging parking and now some places with outrageous cover charges, it's just not worth it to me. Plus, I have a set amount to spend, and if I go to a Bobcats event, it usually maxes out that amount before Id even get out of the event. If we could get back to resonable prices all around then alot of the younger crowd might stay around and go more places in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of people here that are just cheap and boring. There are many larger cities around the country that would cost double or triple to be able to enjoy all the amenities the arena and uptown offers, and most are not with in walking distance of each other.

LaniLaKai said...

To the last post about "many larger cities...would cost double or triple", there's a reason why we don't live in those cities, better yet, was a reason.

Anonymous said...

A big factor is money. Most people dont have extra cash to spend after attending expensive arena events complete with inflated ticket prices and $9 beers.

Plus, apathy for the NBA is at an all time high, and as a franchise, The Bobcats have been a huge colossal failure. Not to mention the fact we VOTED against the arena, but regardless, Mayor "Frat" McCrory and the city council more or less forced it on us.

The skyrocketing crime rate uptown is unacceptable. Sure Police are uptown, but they arent trying to protect anyone, theyre too busy setting up DUI checkpoints , etc..

You all can have the arena, the bobcats, and all the lame bars and clubs uptown. I'll be over on Thomas St sipping on a reasonably priced beer, and when I leave I wont be worried about getting robbed or carjacked in the parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Come 2010, many of these things you cynics complain about will be deemed brilliant. Charlotte chaged significantly for the better during the three years I was gone. A surge of new people, a winning Bobcats team, a transit system that shuttles people in, and the critical mass provided by the additional cultural facilities and Epicentre-type developments will take Center City through the roof. All you CO$T and 'keep Charlotte rural' people need to get over it or move to some other bland southern city like Shreveport or Montgomery if you don't like it. The urban way of doing things is winning here whether you like it or not.

Danimal

Anonymous said...

Being from New Orleans and living in other cities before moving here in 2000, I can only offer my experiences. From what I've come to see is that Charlotte, in general, definitely lacks the "night on the town" you are talking about/looking for.

Back home and even in tiny Mobile, AL, you always went out before and after...didn't matter if it was the opera, a concert, a ball game or a play. Eats and drinks are the norm, before and after the event. Also, I find that everyone stays out later (grandparents included). There seemed to be more choices to grab a cup of coffee and desert at a reasonable price past 10 at night. Grant it, it’s hard to beat NOLA’s restaurant offerings, but Charlotte has come a long way in six years. But it still has a long way to go. Also, Uptown Charlotte is missing that “neighborhood” type bar/restaurant where you can go, sit down and enjoy yourself. Everything is either a dance club or a stuffy restaurant that rushes you out before you’re ready.

In my six years here, I still shake my head when I pass an empty restaurant at nine that just had a waiting line at 5! When you are used to a routine, you stick with it. In NOLA and Mobile, we were "raised" to enjoy/treat yourself to a night on the town whenever possible. That usually meant dinner around 6 or 7, depending on the event and then cocktails/food afterwards. Or you go to dinner at 7 or 8 and enjoy yourself for 2 plus hours. Here, it seems as if it's dinner at 5:30, show and head for home at 10 or we rush through dinner in an hour or so only to rush home to unwind. Why not unwind with good conversation and a great meal? Also, the parking Uptown is out of line. I can understand $15-$20+ parking in NYC, Paris, London, LA, Miami, etc..., but not Charlotte. $3-$7 should be the norm for a city this size, maybe $10 for events, but the way it is now is absurd. You change this and you will probably see folks come on back.

Until people here accept the fact that Uptown Charlotte is a safe place and that it's ok to stay out past 10 o'clock...at night, Uptown Charlotte will continue to be the reserved for expense account dining, arena/BOA/convention center events and the 20 something’s trying to change things.

Jus' Tressie said...

Yes, PARKING. When uptown politicians and the private owners of every spare scrap of land uptown determined they wanted to be Chicago or New York WITHOUT the benefit of that quality of entertainment, I decided it would be a cold day in hades before they saw me up there again.

And I'M their target demographic to hear them tell it! LOL at that. I'm 30, middle class I suppose, with eclectic interests.

I use to park Uptown during the midday and hang out into the late evening hours. Now, the parking is never free, you can barely FIND a spot, there's always some type of construction. The owners of the bars and such weren't that friendly to begin with, now the servers I've encountered are down right snotty.

I'll go for dinner and drinks over on Central Ave first. Dinner at Dish or The Penguin. Cheap drinks at The Tavern. Take it up a notch at Fire&Ice. All with free parking, better attitudes and less manufactured "cool."

I think our politcians are so out of touch it's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I agree with John, downtown is a working class location. Other than occasional events, downtown doesn't have much to offer; especially for families. The area needs more cultural family attractions, street level brand name shops, and family chain restaurants. High end shops, additional parking decks, and family attraction would bring more life and business to the area.

Anonymous said...

"downtown is a working class location. Other than occasional events, downtown doesn't have much to offer; especially for families. The area needs more cultural family attractions, street level brand name shops, and family chain restaurants. High end shops, additional parking decks, and family attraction would bring more life and business to the area."

The arena is family friendly. Whether it be shows, Checkers games, or Bobcats games they are all events families can enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Ditto...

Indian, Asian, and African cuisines are needed and would add variety as well. Uptown needs diveristy.

Anonymous said...

I think competition is the biggest factor for downtown. What does downtown have in the way of bars and restaurants that you can't find somewhere else in Charlotte? Not much. Southpark has some of the best upscale dining in this city and they do offer free CONVENIENT parking. The neighborhood pubs, like Selwyn, East Blvd Bar & Grill, Moosehead, Thomas Street and now Solstice Tavern in Noda offer better atmosphere than Dixie's or Cans any day. Who would go downtown when other areas of Charlotte are sooo much better?

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the writer that said Charlotte needs more family-oriented things. I think Charlotte is too family-oriented as it is. That's why it's so boring and doesn't attract the younger crowd.

Anonymous said...

The people who want to party all of the time should move to a real city. Some of us like what you call boring.

Anonymous said...

I took the Family down to see Wiggles show. After the show we walked a block or two and found a nice place to eat and it was PACKED with little WIGGLERS! So from my experience, it depends on the events. I think the family shows will have more patrons dining for meals before/after as was the case when we went!

Chris said...

Charlotte is in the midst of a transition. As the center city population grows, more will follow. Don't forget that there are 14 residential highrises coming, adding over 10,000 people as full time residence in that area. Most will be younger and will demand a certain lifestyle that includes all KINDS of entertainment.

In the meantime, the leaders of Charlotte must be more suburban friendly by reducing the high cost of parking. Also, Uptown IS safe and there needs to be a media blitz to put that point across. Believe me, I have lived in MANY big cities and it IS safe in Uptown.

It would be nice to see the Uptown hotels offer weekend package deals for locals. These have been very successful in other cities. This gives folks an alternative to rushing home.

Charlotte residences complain TOOOOOO much! You have a great city that is trying to provide many big city items with small city charms. GET OVER THE UPTOWN ARENA CRAP!!! It's here to stay!! Either SHUT UP or take your marbles and STAY HOME!! ENOUGH OF THE WHINING!!

There are many clubs, bars, and places to eat AND growing, but the powers that be need to express to the biz community that this is NOT NYC, BOS, DCA, and SFO. Southerners will NOT support outrageous prices or rudeness. They will stay home and throw something on the barbeque.

Having lived in other larger cities, I see the buzz of Uptown and the vision set forth. I guess I stand alone, but am excited about Uptown. One great thing about Charlotte? We have lots of choices where living is concerned.

Anonymous said...

I would think that the success of the teams that play at the Uptown Arena would probably have quite an impact on whether or not the surrounding businesses prosper.

More Bobcat/Sting wins = more excited fans looking to have a drink or a meal after the game.

Anonymous said...

Hey Thomas Street fan, I'm with you. Thomas and Tyber knock the socks of many of the overpriced yuppie bars downtown. But about not getting held up out there I'll have to disagree. I've never had a safety issue in the Center City, but I was robbed at gunpoint when I lived off Commonwealth, and my car was stolen when I lived off Scaleybark. Crime is everywhere dude. Now, how about another pint?

Danimal

HC said...

Charlotte still embodies many good ole Southern values or exclusiveness and classism. Uptown retailers have not demonstrated a history of embracing diversity. White folks want to party with white folks. The more affluent does not want to party with the "just anybody". Simply put attitudes in this city still do not value diversity. Those that can afford to patronize many of the finer restaurants get nervous at the sight of seeing someone who does not look like them. Additionally, CMPD has gotten its marching orders from Center City Partners to discourage young minorities from partying uptown. An Uptown Arena does not change the narrow-minded conservative philosophies of the masses in the Queen City. Just becase your physicall infrastucture begins to look a little more like Manhattan than Montgomery Alabama doesn't mean that the economic impact of urban synthesis will experinced.

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that there is such an anti-Uptown establishment out there. Most of these hillbillies who want to revert to the rural Charlotte pre-90s should realize this "glorious" time is gone forever. It's time this sleepy city moves forward toward realizing the great potential it has...so hillbillies and anti-Uptown people - get on the (light rail) train and ride to the arena, or be left behind in the dark ages.

Anonymous said...

Has everyone forgot the following:

THE ARENA SELLS ACOHOL AND FOOD!

Many of us who attend events at the new arena really love the inside of the areana so much that we keep our money inside the arena. The arena has a cool bar inside it overlooking the floor. There are many many many restaurant and food choices inside the new arena. I spend my money inside the arena for ticket to the event, food and booze! I even buy merchandise inside. The arena is all inclusive, therefore why would many folks not socialize inside vs outside. The arena rocks!

Anonymous said...

PARKING PARKING PARKING
I used to park free by stool pigeons every weekend and bar hop all night. Now since the arena, parking and cover into one club is already $20 gone, and I havnt even had a drink yet. Bring our free parking back and maybe we'll come back.