Soccer

Raleigh will rally to prove worthy of MLS expansion team

Posted July 11

— The North Carolina Football Club will have a group of very special guests in town on July 19. Major League Soccer President Mark Abbott will tour the area as he scouts for a location for the next MLS expansion team.

NCFC owner Steve Malik has made no secret of his desire to bring the MLS game to Wake county. The local bid is one of 12 areas in the running.

A major question is where a planned 22,000-seat stadium would be located.The MLS group will tour some of the potential spots before a 5 p.m. a public rally in downtown Raleigh where fans will gather and show their support.

Since December, Malik has rebranded the team once known as the Carolina RailHawks, acquired the defending champions of the National Women’s Soccer League and begun lobbying for a new stadium. The teams' current home, WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, seats about 10,000 after an expansion in 2012.

In its application to MLS, North Carolina FC highlighted the strong historical population growth in the Triangle. The Triangle ranks in the top five among all current MLS markets based on a population-per-professional franchise.

The club also touted its long standing relationship with Capitol Broadcasting Company, the parent company of WRAL News and WRAL SportsFan. Jimmy Goodmon, vice president of Capitol Broadcasting Company, is the chairman of the Triangle MLS Committee.

"The market is ready for an MLS team based on our geographical location, population growth, dynamic economic environment and significant soccer participation," Malik said in December. "MLS requires a minimum of 20,000 seats with amenities in order to maximize revenue, and a new stadium is vital to our plans as it would increase the economic impact in the area and allow us to better showcase the sport.”

Charlotte, also in the running for an MLS expansion team, will get their visit on July 18.

"We're really excited to provide MLS leadership with an up-close look at the passion Charlotte has for soccer," said Marcus Smith, CEO of MLS4CLT. "More important, we're looking forward to showcasing all the different ways Major League Soccer can positively impact our community."

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  • James Marley Jul 12, 4:34 p.m.
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    I would be shocked if MLS expanded here. They cant even sell out a 10,000 seat stadium. How would they sell out a 20K stadium? While I do not go to every game, I have yet to be at one where the stadium was half full. I applaud NC FC for trying, but MLS would be fools if they selected this market.

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