Sunday, December 12, 2010

Boston Celtics 93 at Charlotte Bobcats 62 - December 11, 2010

After an afternoon at the new NASCAR Hall of Fame, I walked the few blocks north to revisit Time Warner Cable Arena, this time for an NBA battle featuring Boston and the Bobcats.

Time Warner Cable Arena

North Carolina has a deep basketball history, particularly at the university level with reigning national champion Duke and UNC the most notable programs. At the professional level, the Charlotte Hornets led the NBA in attendance for their first 7 seasons, including 358 consecutive sellouts at the Charlotte Coliseum, before fans became disenchanted with the team's owner and stopped going. The ranchise moved to New Orleans in 2002 and the Bobcats were created to replace the void.

However, a lack of luxury boxes and other revenue generators made the Coliseum too outdated to house an NBA team, so a downtown arena was constructed as part of the deal to bring the Bobcats to town. There was a lot of political controversy in the construction of the arena which I didn't follow when it was happening and don't fully understand even now, but the venue opened in 2005 as the Charlotte Bobcats Arena. Two years later, the Coliseum was demolished after only 18 years of existence.

In 2008, Time Warner Cable purchased the naming rights to the new arena and it subsequently became known as the Cable Box to locals. Just five years old, it is the second-newest arena in the NBA after Orlando's Amway Center.

It is located in Uptown Charlotte, which is really downtown in any other city. There's a light rail station right there which is very convenient, although there is also plenty of parking nearby. I went on a Saturday and parked in a $5 all-day lot but by the time the game was over, the attendant was gone, so it was free! I didn't see any nearby street parking but didn't look very hard either.

There are two main entrances, one on Trade Street (above), the other on 5th street. It is this latter entrance where the box office is located. I should note that there are TicketMaster machines next to the box office which don't have any additional charges, while buying a ticket inside will cost an additional $3 as a facility fee.

Security here is the tightest I've seen and the lineups are long as a result. A gentleman in front of me at the hockey game was told he could not bring in his pocket knife, so they are quite serious and you will need to empty your pockets of all metal objects.

Once inside, there is a large atrium with more ticket windows. It opens into the north end of the seating bowl, although you can't enter there without a proper ticket. In the lower bowl, seats are sloped at a fairly gentle angle, while the upper deck is much steeper. As I mentioned in the previous post, this is not good for hockey, but it works nicely for basketball. An anonymous commenter mentioned the term "short-axis arena" but I haven't been able to find much detail (his comment is on the first page of a Google search for that term).

I walked around once and noticed a number of interesting features. First, there was a practice gym which you could look into. Not sure who was shooting below but don't think he was involved in the game.

On one wall by an escalator there was a historical display on basketball in the state (below), which looked interesting but I didn't notice it until I was on my way out and didn't have time to explore it as I had to get going. There were also a couple of displays for high school champions in both North and South Carolina (Charlotte is right on the border of the two states).

I didn't eat here but did like the aviation-themed concession area with Frequent Fryers and Barn Stormers a couple of the names that honour North Carolina as the birthplace of manned flight.

The upper bowl is very wide with a couple of wall paintings, one that honours season-ticket holders. I had a center court seat midway up and the view is below.

The scoreboard is the biggest for an indoor arena at 28x16 but the coolest thing was the Charlotte skyline on top.

Overall, I enjoyed this venue for both basketball and hockey. It has a great location with plenty of restaurants and bars around and I noticed friendly staff at both events. After the two Charlotte teams lost while I visited, I've been warned about returning, but would suggest to other sports road trippers that they check the schedules out for similar doubleheader opportunities.

The Game

Boston was on a nine-game winning streak and won this one easily 93-62. I'm not even going to bother recapping it, it was ugly. Charlotte were terrible, shooting just 33.8% from the field and an abysmal 56.5% from the line. The Celtics didn't play very well themselves, but it didn't matter. Charlotte had lots of open shots and missed most of them. I liked the quote by coach Larry Brown: "You beg people to play hard and do the right thing, that's not coaching. You don't coach effort, you coach execution." Simply put, the Bobcats couldn't execute on this night and suffered their lowest point total in over a year.

Marquis Daniels driving

The highlight of the game was the national anthem by Lee England, Jr., who plays an electric violin. He also did a halftime show that was about 10 times more entertaining than the Bobcats were.

Next Up

I'm behind on my posting as I've been on the road since Jacksonville. I skipped the Miami Heat game on Monday night as the NBA has been a bit of a turn-off on this trip and I figured the Heat would win easily (which they did). I'm now in Ottawa visiting my new nephew and will be checking out my first QMJHL game tonight in Hull. I'll have posts on the Jacksonville-Oakland game, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and tonight's game over the next day or two before I take a couple of weeks off for the Christmas holidays.



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