The Charlotte Hornets have hired sports venue consultant CAA ICON to help the NBA franchise map out future upgrades at Spectrum Center, CBJ learned Wednesday.

Fred Whitfield, president of Hornets Sports & Entertainment, the parent company that owns team and operates the arena, confirmed the consultant’s hiring. Whitfield said CAA ICON was enlisted earlier this year to assist with the next round of upgrades at the 19,000-seat, city-owned building.

...Whitfield told CBJ that CAA ICON is “highly respected.” The Hornets liked the firm’s extensive experience with venue planning, he added.

The Hornets’ alliance with CAA ICON comes as city government has altered its approach to negotiating with sports teams. Tracy Dodson, assistant city manager in charge of economic development, recently told CBJ that the city has hired Inner Circle Sports of New York to lend expertise in talks with local NFL, Major League Soccer and NBA teams and venues.

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