A Basketball Fan's Guide to Charlotte
With the 2022-2023 basketball season tipping off, we’ve got you covered with our guide to pro hoops in the Queen City.
by Andy Goh Oct 18, 2022
From the ABA’s Carolina Cougars to the Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning and Muggsy Bogues-led Hornets teams of the 90s, to today’s current Hornets squad led by superstar LaMelo Ball, Charlotte is home to countless memories, not to mention a pioneer of style (ask local fashion designer Alexander Julian, whose purple and teal pinstriped Hornets uniforms redefined what’s cool not only in pro sports but all of pop culture). Our guide will show you where to watch the game, how to get your Hornets fit looking its sharpest, and how to make an evening in Charlotte around a game of roundball.
Watch the Game Courtside
If you’re the type of fan for whom nothing less than experiencing games in person will do, you're in luck. Built in 2004, Uptown’s Spectrum Center is a dazzling and modern home court that has all the features and amenities you could expect. Topping out at 20,200 capacity for basketball games, Spectrum Center is not only a suitable arena for LaMelo Ball and company, but the NCAA, ACC, CIAA, and Southern Conference who all chose to host their tournaments here as well. Don’t forget about the year-round calendar of events that takes place here, including big-time concerts, performances and other sports (like WWE wrestling).
That doesn’t mean Spectrum Center is your only option for hoops. Head up north to the campus of UNC Charlotte and Dale F. Halton Arena to catch the 49ers do battle on the hardwood. Division 2 college basketball is alive and well at Curry Arena on the campus of Queens University of Charlotte, where the Royals’ men's basketball team has consistently been ranked in the top 10 nationally over the past several years. For fans of Stephen Curry, one of Charlotte’s brightest hometown heroes, you can catch a game at his old stomping grounds at John M. Belk Arena of Davidson College when the Davidson Wildcats play each fall and winter.
Grab Your Gear
Did we mention that the Alexander Julian-designed Hornets uniforms that debuted in 1988 and completely took over fashion in hoops, sports and pop culture in the early 90s? We did? Well, we’re going to mention it again, because it’s that important. And as a hoops fan in the Queen City, you need some quality gear to live up to the standards we have in town.
Your first stop should be the Hornets Fan Shop, located on the ground floor of Spectrum Center. Get your threads directly from the source! There’s no shortage of jerseys, hats, t-shirts and more that will have you looking like the hoops expert you are. Don’t expect any knock-off brands here – team owner Michael Jordan has made sure that everything in the team store meets the Jordan Brand’s standards of excellence.
Every hardcore hoops fan knows that rocking only officially licensed gear will leave you with an incomplete fit. Charlotte’s got several strong local apparel brands that will complement your Hornets snapback with t-shirts, shorts, hoodies and more that have unique designs that you can’t find from the NBA or its stores. Make sure to visit Girl Tribe, CLT Find, 704Shop or Glory Days Apparel to connect your fandom with the city it represents.
If hoops-inspired street wear is more your thing, head over to Social Status in Plaza Midwood, a boutique clothing and accessories store that will have at least a couple pairs of Jordans that will be calling your name.
49ers fans will want to stop by the UNC Charlotte Spirit Shop before tip off, and Davidson fans can check out the Davidson College Store before cheering on their teams.
Where to Watch (and grab a drink)
Can’t get tickets to the game? Not a problem! There’s more than a few places to catch games that will give you a gameday atmosphere. In Uptown, check out The Public House, Duckworth’s Grill and Taphouse, 204 North, Dandelion Market, Cowbell Burger & Whiskey Bar, Tilt on Trade, Valhalla, or Mortimer’s for a fun and lively gameday atmosphere featuring traditional pub fare along with plenty of beers on tap.
Special recognition goes to The Local (located just a block away from the entrance to Spectrum Center), as the home bar for The Crown Club CLT, the premiere Hornets fan club and watch party. Join the Crown Club here.
Where to Stay
Cheering on your favorite hoops team takes a lot of energy and at the end of the night, win or lose you’re going to want to be comfortable. Charlotte’s got you covered!
Book a room at the Aloft Charlotte City Center, a modern lodging spot just footsteps away from the Spectrum Center. Just as close to the arena is the Hilton Charlotte Uptown for a more traditional stay. If you’re feeling fancy, book a room at the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, JW Marriott Charlotte or the Omni Hotel after the game and you might run into some of your favorite players. You’ll also have a wonderful and classy experience in one of Charlotte’s historic boutique hotels in the heart of Uptown such as the Dunhill Hotel or The Ivey’s Hotel.
Where to Play
Ready to get your game on? Check out just a few places where you can join the action on the court. Latta Park is the quintessential stop for basketball, whether you're just practicing your jump shot or playing 3-on-3. The open air courts at Cordelia Park were renovated by the Hornets and the NBA before the 2019 All-Star Game and offer original artwork painted on the blacktop. A few other city parks that offer great hoops are Hornets Nest Park, Freedom Park, Nevin Community Park and Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve.