Itinerant Fan

Spectrum Center

Basketball holds a special place in the hearts of North Carolinians. This is most evident in the Raleigh-Durham/Research Triangle area, where college hoops is king, but head south to Charlotte and you’ll see that the pro hoops scene is alive and well at Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets.

The hub of hoops in the Queen City in the center city area, where the Hornets’ current home lies. Though the team, in their second iteration after the first version of the franchise relocated to New Orleans, has yet to experience any consistent success, they have benefited from star ownership and an up-and-coming team to make a handful of playoff appearances in recent years. 

Their arena, formerly known as Time Warner Cable Arena, is one of the more modern facilities in the NBA and provides a fine viewing experience whether you’re there to cheer on the Hornets, the visitors or just to check out a night of basketball.

The approach: Getting to Spectrum Center

Spectrum Center is located within the core of uptown Charlotte (which in most cities would be referred to as “downtown”) and thus easily accessible by car, rail or foot. For drivers, there are numerous surface lots and parking structures in the immediate vicinity of the arena — expect to pay up to $20 for the closest lots. For driving directions and parking information, click here; for lots operated by the city of Charlotte, click here.

Charlotte has a light-rail system, consisting of a single line known as the Blue Line, that begins in Uptown and runs toward points southwest. It has a stop directly in front of Spectrum Center called CTC/Arena. From the same station, there is a free streetcar system known as CityLynx that can be used to reach the arena from points east of Uptown.

If you’re a visitor to Charlotte, most of Uptown’s hotels are within walking distance of the arena; the closest is the Ritz-Carlton a block away, but a number of brand-name hotels are within a few blocks, primarily to the north and west.

Center map
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The build-up: Things to do around Spectrum Center

Spectrum Center’s location gives it a definite advantage over its predecessor, the Charlotte Coliseum, which was located in the city’s outskirts. In the same vicinity as most of the Uptown hotels are the restaurants and bars that make up the nightlife scene, and it’s a vibrant one that basketball fans can enjoy before and after games.

For nearby restaurants offering Southern cooking, check out Mert’s Heart and Soul, Queen City Q or Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen, all within two blocks of the arena. You can find a more comprehensive list of nearby restaurants here.

If you’re interested in checking out the city’s culture before the game, you can visit a number of nearby museums. For a glimpse into the history of a different sport with a Southern heritage, the NASCAR Hall of Fame is located a few blocks away, at the corner of Brevard Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The Mint Museum, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture are all clustered nearby as well.

Press Pass Collectibles

The ambiance: Watching a game at Spectrum Center

On Hornets game nights, Spectrum Center is known as “Buzz City” and the team’s familiar teal color is pretty much everywhere within. The experience has undergone improvements in recent years, with a number of renovations including the installation of a high-definition videoboard and ribbon boards. (As a nice touch, a display mimicking the Charlotte skyline serves as decoration atop the center videoboard.)

With a capacity of more than 19,000, Spectrum Center is among the larger arenas in the NBA, and it shows at times for fans sitting in the uppermost rows — the view can feel far away from those spots, especially when you factor in that the arena is configured for hockey as well with a minor-league team calling the facility home.

The arena’s food options have expanded in recent years, with items like short-rib sandwiches and veggie burgers being added to complement the usual fare. That Carolina classic, the pulled pork sandwich, is available at the Queen City Q stands (one of their restaurants is located two blocks away — see “The Build-Up” above).

As far as the craft beer scene, regional breweries Noda, Sugar Creek and Foothills are all represented at various stands.

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    The Particulars

    Home Teams
    Charlotte Hornets

    333 E Trade St.
    Charlotte, NC 28202

    Year Opened


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