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April 2003
Plaudits to New Local Talent Boosting Charlotte
By John Paul Galles

     It was an absolute pleasure meeting and getting to know Ed Tapscott, recently appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer of Charlotte’s new NBA franchise which is yet to be named. Sitting in the chair once occupied by Ray Wooldridge, he demonstrates his insights and enthusiasm for basketball and for the opportunity to work with Bob Johnson, the new owner. As the point man on the scene for Johnson, Tapscott brings a rich background of experience to the endeavor of creating a new franchise in a city that practically expelled the previous owners. He knows that he needs to create a staff and a team that is fan-focused, and understands the value of recognizing, building and encouraging its fan base. Thanks go to Nelson Schwab for arranging the meeting and the opportunity.

     Ed speaks candidly about Bob Johnson and his ambitions to build this franchise and an enthusiastic fan base. He quotes Bob’s instructions to create “an emotionally engaging experience.” Bob has also reached out to include other investors or local owners who will help anchor this team in Charlotte. Besides building the team, he is talking about helping Charlotte grow in the areas surrounding the new arena.

     Barry Silberman, who will oversee the construction of the new arena in Charlotte’s center city, joins Ed. Having overseen the design and construction of the MCI Center in Washington, D.C., Barry knows how to create a community-friendly building that serves a multitude of purposes and entertainment.

     Chris Weiller also joins the new franchise as vice president of corporate affairs after having worked with NBA Commissioner David Stern in New York. He will fit in well here with all the other New Yorkers that have migrated to Charlotte in recent years.

     This is a group skillful and talented people who are dedicated to making this franchise valuable and friendly to the Charlotte community. We are confident that they will gather and rebuild fan support to new and continuing levels we will all respect and enjoy. We will do our best to keep you informed about the inside workings and ambitions of the new NBA franchise.

     It is also good to be moving forward on the new arena. Looking down on the space that is being cleared for its construction, it will be exciting to watch it rise on those four square blocks in the next two years. The brick and glass exterior should be harmonious with nearby buildings and provide a new focal point for sports and entertainment activity. It will certainly stimulate new business start-ups, growth and development that will draw even more community participation in center city activities.

     Making this happen while the economy has been struggling and we have been engulfed in debate and preparations for war is exactly the right thing to be doing to move the city forward.

     One of the other new and bright personalities boosting Charlotte is The Westin Charlotte’s general manager, Jon Kimball. He, too, has maintained an energetic spirit throughout the construction delays to the hotel’s opening, as it seems that everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. He and his staff have enthusiastically invited seminars, conferences, events, trade shows and conventions to the new Westin hotel, only to move them to nearby facilities as the opening has been repeatedly postponed. They are anxious to serve and have yet to be given the opportunity. They will prevail.

     In recent years, thousands of newcomers to Charlotte have joined the community boosting local businesses, philanthropies, not-for-profits, arts and entertainment entities and expanding its diversity and its potential. In combination with its heritage and the vision of Charlottean leaders, Charlotte is well positioned to spring forward in an economic recovery with a new burst of economic growth and expansion.

John Paul Galles is the publisher of Greater Charlotte Biz.
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