Soccer

State government site, no taxpayer money make up Raleigh's MLS stadium plan

Posted July 19

— For months, followers of the Triangle’s bid for a Major League Soccer expansion team have repeated a common refrain: What about the stadium? On Wednesday, organizers took a large step toward answering that question.

At a morning press conference at the Raleigh City Market, Steve Malik, owner of the North Carolina FC and spearhead of the MLS bid, unveiled renderings and a preferred site for a new multi-purpose entertainment stadium complex in downtown Raleigh. The facility is proposed for the grounds of the North Carolina state government complex, adjacent to Halifax Mall at the corners of North Salisbury Street and Peace Street. The land is currently owned by the state. The proposed downtown stadium would house the North Carolina FC men’s soccer team and likely the North Carolina Courage of NWSL, and be designed for other entertainment, retail and residential uses.

NCFC stadium plan with street names

Malik said that he will partner with Kane Realty of Raleigh for the project, and he continues the process of securing private financing for construction.

“I haven’t asked for [public] funding,” Malik said. “But community support and being able to go through a process where you listen to your constituents and mold your final proposal for what’s best for the community, a number of things could happen. One of the things I’ve mentioned is infrastructure, parking and transportation. It’s dual use, particularly when you’re talking about a facility that’s going to have office space, ground-floor retail and living units in it, as planned.”

That said, Malik wouldn’t foreclose the possibility of soliciting revenue from Raleigh’s occupancy and prepared food and beverage taxes already earmarked for downtown development.

“We haven’t asked for that yet,” Malik said. “I have to say, I’ve already had a dozen people suggest that that might help us get a [MLS] bid. So, that’s interesting feedback.”

The stadium announcement came on a day when MLS representatives, principally league president Mark Abbott, visited the area and toured three potential sites with members of the Triangle MLS Committee. The visitors rode in WRAL-TV's helicopter, Sky 5, and were accompanied by Triangle MLS Chairman and Capitol Broadcasting Company Vice President James F. Goodmon Jr.

CBC is the parent company of local media outlets including WRAL-TV, three sports radio stations, WRAL-FM radio and WRAL.com.

On Wednesday, Abbott took note of marked improvements in both the market and professional soccer apparatus since he was last in Raleigh.

“There’s been growth and development in the downtown area,” Abbott said. “And Steve [Malik] coming in, in terms of taking ownership of the club, has been very beneficial for the club. I think he’s provided a vision for trying to grow professional soccer in this market, and trying to bring Major League Soccer to this market. Today was a good experience for us, to be able to meet with business leaders and elected officials, and to tour the stadium site … I think there is a compelling vision [here], not only for trying to bring Major League Soccer but trying to connect that [preferred stadium site] with the downtown area, to revitalize the Halifax Mall, to be part of the vitalization of downtown.”

Malik also shared the partial findings of an economic impact survey, commissioned by NCFC, that estimated an economic stimulus of $2 billion for Wake County and $1.5 billion for downtown Raleigh on jobs, wages, sales revenue and tax revenue over 17 years of facility construction and operation. The study predicted pro soccer could add 1,960 jobs in North Carolina, including 1,470 in Wake County, along with over $5 million in additional annual state, county and local tax revenue.

Wednesday's MLS site visit, culminating with a 5 p.m. public rally at Raleigh City Market, is the most public pronouncement about the Triangle’s MLS bid since Malik announced his intentions last December.

“We’ve been very careful not to get the cart ahead of the horse,” said NCFC President Curt Johnson. “If we’ve done anything well, that’s something that I feel very positive about. What I mean by that is we know what a winning bid looks like, and there was no need for us to have a weekly conversation with Major League Soccer until we got to this point: a preferred site location, an in-depth analysis of what size stadium we need, the key amenities of the stadium, and the economic impact study that substantiates the wherewithal of our community to support it and the desire for it to happen. That’s what we’ve been working really hard on since January.”

Wednesday was about impressing locals and visitors alike. Now comes the hard part of gauging public and political appetite for not only this downtown stadium project, but professional soccer in general.

“Clearly there have been a lot of conversations, and the dialogue will certainly grow now,” Johnson said. “The vision is laid out now for the public to see, for everyone to see. So, the dialogue will get very specific about the land, the development opportunity and how we get it done as a community.”

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  • Colin Burch III Jul 20, 3:34 p.m.
    user avatar

    Are the taxpayers going to get fair market value for the state property sold for the arena or is this another sweetheart deal like the city tried for the Dix proprerty? Is the state getting paid full amount before ground breaking? Projected jobs and economic impact for these ventures are often over stated but that is the investor's concern since no governments at city, county or state level have any finanial interest now or in future other than taxing the food, alcohol, parking and seats. :-))

  • Teddy Fowler Jul 20, 8:09 a.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    The state is selling the land... so with that money they can build new buildings on currently state owned land.... besides the Archdale building is an albatross and was gonna be torn down or completely remodeled anyway....

  • James Marley Jul 20, 7:55 a.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    No, it would be way too small.

  • Frank Curcio Jul 20, 7:51 a.m.
    user avatar

    Could this stadium also be used for baseball? Hmm....

  • Norman Lewis Jul 20, 1:56 a.m.
    user avatar

    If anyone and I mean all the taxpayers in the area, believes this "MLS" bid will not result in a massive burden to Wake County taxpayers at some point in the near future, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you. I and most of the public in the area, DO NOT CARE about soccer. We will NOT pay exorbitant prices to see the games contrary to what the promoters will tell you. If anyone doubts this, look and see how much (new, previously not spent on other things in the area), money the Hurricanes bring to the local economy. I have been to a 'Canes game and could not have cared less.

  • Kevin Weidner Jul 19, 8:11 p.m.
    user avatar

    The checks in the mail and I Love You.

  • Andrew Stephenson Jul 19, 8:06 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    Still an unknown, but from the article: "Malik said that he will partner with Kane Realty of Raleigh for the project, and he continues the process of securing private financing for construction."

  • Edward Tilley Jul 19, 7:52 p.m.
    user avatar

    No taxpayer money?? So, then who will be paying for the replacements for the Archdale, Dobbs, and other State buildings that will be torn down to facilitate this stadium?

  • Kelly Paris Jul 19, 7:18 p.m.
    user avatar

    Disaster.

  • Robert Fotch Jr Jul 19, 7:00 p.m.
    user avatar

    No tax payer money? I hardly believe that. Who's footing the bill for it then?

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