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The Hornets are back

And with a name change, Charlotte’s current NBA franchise is generating a lot more buzz (sorry) than it ever did when called the Bobcats. For that excitement to continue, the current Hornets will have to perform like the Hornets of old rather than the Bobcats — that is to say, put a consistently competitive product on the floor. Winning sells tickets, simply as that. And if Charlotte’s NBA team doesn’t win, three years from now it won’t matter what they’re called…

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Bicyclist deaths

Bruce Siceloff of the Raleigh News & Observer has an interesting column out on bicyclist deaths. Some takeaway points:

• Bicycles are very much an adult item these days: In 2012, 84 percent of all cyclists killed were age 20 or above.

• “More than two-thirds of the cyclists killed each year were not wearing safety helmets.”

And then there’s this:

“In North Carolina, where 117 cyclists died in bike-car crashes during the five years that ended in 2012, police concluded that 27 of the cyclists and 14 of the car drivers had been drinking before the crash, according to a searchable database maintained by the UNC Highway Safety Research Center.

Biking while impaired is sometimes a hazard for rural, low-income residents who don’t have driver’s licenses – including four of the nine Robeson County cyclists killed during that five-year period. But it’s part of the city cycling scene, too.

“The urban bicycle commuters go to happy hour, too,” [Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association] said. “Impairment is impairment: If you’re too drunk to drive a car, you’re too drunk to ride a bike.”

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The bizarreness of incentives, Texas style

It’s race week in Austin, TX — and that means Formula 1, not NASCAR, at the three-year old Circuit of the Americas. Right of time, Motorsports offers up a look at the tracks financial situation, which might best be described as “complicated.” On the one hard, CotA is claiming vast economic impact figures — 9,100 jobs “supported” each year by events at the track and $306 million in wages paid “resulting from COTA’s presence” — in order to get state incentive money while at the same time claiming the track is losing money and the valuation for property taxes is way too high. OK…

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Chiquita sold to Brazilian companies

Charlotte impact: Unknown. Whether the city, county, and state will recoup the $22 million in incentives promised to the company: Unknown. Whether the city, county, or state will change their incentives policy after luring a sick company that was then sold to foreign investors three years later: unlikely. The goal of the Great Economic Development Elephant Hunt is to land big game. For those playing the game, whether the game actually turns out to be as tasty as advertised is very much besides the point.

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I-485 completition delayed

Imagine that, a major highway project opening behind schedule. In any case, N.C. Department of Transportation officials are now saying that the final 5.7-mile stretch of I-485 in northeast Mecklenburg County won’t now open until the spring instead of in December as previously thought.

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The UPoR discovers some CLT-Europe flights at risk

And puts it on the front page of Friday’s paper “American Airlines executives hint at Charlotte flight cuts.”

Well yes they did say during yesterday’s conference call. But the even bigger hint came two weeks ago when US Airways loaded a new draft schedule for next summer that didn’t include three summer-seasonal flights destinations from Charlotte that US Airways first flew in 2014: Brussels, Lisbon, and Manchester.

While the Charlotte Observer story is decent as far as it goes, it doesn’t get into the fleet usage aspect of the issue. Recall that the draft flight schedule says that US Airways and only US Airways (and not American Airlines) jets will continue to fly all the combined airlines flights to Europe from Charlotte and Philadelphia. The schedule also suggests that US Airways’ Boeing 767-200ER will retire by next summer. This will reduce US Airway’s widebody fleet from 31 to 24, not enough planes to cover what the airline currently has posted online, even after dropping the Brussels, Lisbon, and Manchester flights from CLT.

American Airlines/US Airways latest financial fillings provides some additional details that’s consistent with this scenario. A Form 8-K files in January says the combined carriers anticipated having seven 767-200s — those would be US Airways’ — in service at the end of the year. A Form 8-K filed yesterdays shows the airlines now only plan to have only six in service at the end of the year. So US Airways seems to be accelerating 767-200 retirements, which would tie in well with the type being gone by the summer. And if that’s the case, then US Airways still has some additional European flights to cut.

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Sometimes a headline says it all…

And this would be an example: Camel maker Reynolds snuffs out workplace smoking. Wow.

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NASCAR viewership down

Per Sport Media Watch:

NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Talladega, the sixth race in the Chase for the Cup, earned a 2.7 final rating and 4.3 million viewers on ESPN Sunday — down 13% in ratings and 12% in viewership from last year (3.1, 4.9M) and down 16% and 15%, respectively, from 2012 (3.2, 5.1M).

And:

Overall, 23 of the 28 NASCAR races that can be compared to last year have had declines in ratings and 22 have had declines in viewership.

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Wreck of U 576 found off the North Carolina coast

On July 14, 1942, the German submarine U 576 torpedoed and sank the American motor vessel Bluefields off Cape Hatteras. The U-boat was sunk soon thereafter with all hands in an ASW counterattack. The wreck of both vessels were found earlier this year by a team led by NOAA; the discovery was announced today.

In 1942, four U-boats were sunk off the North Carolina coast. U 576 was the final of these wrecks to be located.

Obviously, I have a bit different of a perspective on this than most people would. I will say that it is outstanding to see the U.S. government take the lead in locating such significant wrecks and recognizing it as a war grave.

Bonus thought: High-quality sonar images of submarine wrecks are a true game-changer in marine archeology.

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Frontier Airlines drops CLT – Washington Dulles

As of January 5th. Well that didn’t last long, as Frontier only started service on the route on Aug. 20. This leaves Frontier with a single flight from Charlotte. It’s to Trenton, NJ and operates four or five days a week. The airline is also apparently planning service from Charlotte to Philadelphia, but the airline hasn’t loaded the schedule for that yet.

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