Raleigh, NC – For two years now, plans have been in the works to move North Carolina FC from their current location at WakeMed Soccer Park to a new major stadium in Downtown Raleigh. Now, there is a new downtown plan, combining the stadium with a large mixed-use area, all contingent upon hospitality tax funding.
Stadium, Offices and More
At a Tuesday, June 25, 2019 press conference at The Dillon in Downtown Raleigh, NCFC and NC Courage owner Steve Malik, along with Kane Realty Chairman and CEO John Kane and Trademark Properties founder Billie Redmond, revealed plans for Downtown South, a “Downtown Raleigh Entertainment District” at the intersection of South Saunders Street and I-40, a few blocks from The Dillon itself. This would be not only the 20,000-seat soccer stadium, which includes other entertainment and event uses, but also:
- 125,000 square feet for retail and service uses
- a 1,200 room hotel
- 1.6 million square feet of office space
- 1,750 multi-family residential units
- assorted green space
“Of the four major cities in North Carolina, Raleigh is the only one without a downtown stadium,” Malik said. “We’re probably the only major city in the South that doesn’t have one.”
If Downtown South is completed, Malik said NCFC and the North Carolina Courage would compete here instead of Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
“The Town of Cary maintains one of the best facilities in the country, but there’s not a lot to do around it. It’s not an urban environment,” Malik said. “However, it is an excellent location for training facilities.”
But if Downtown South is going to be built, Kane said the project will need funding from Wake County’s hospitality tax, gathered from hotels and restaurants. The plan does not take funding from the general tax fund.
“Without the interlocal funds, this doesn’t happen,” Kane said.
That funding will be $13 million per year, though projections from Kane, Redmond and Malik show the revenue brought in by the stadium and surrounding development results in a net benefit of $12.6 million per year. Throughout the press conference, Malik repeatedly urged supporters of this project to contact the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the Raleigh City Council, who will vote on the funding this Summer.
Impact on Wake County
In the press conference, all three panelists said this portion of Downtown Raleigh is underdeveloped and the project would create a boost to the area.
“This is 55 acres of underdeveloped, underutilized property,” Redmond said. “There are no residences here and no one is being displaced.”
In her presentation, Redmond said this project would generate $4.1 billion in economic activity for the state and $3.8 billion for Wake County, as well as creating around 10,000 jobs statewide, with around 5,900 of those in Wake County.
Also, this site sits near a bus line, so Redmond said the proximity of new mutli-family housing here fits with transportation.
Malik also said they plan on having affordable housing included in the site and said they will be working with the Wake Commissioners to see the best way to accomplish that. Also, on adjacent land to Downtown South, near the State Farmers’ Market, Malik said those will potentially become new soccer fields.
Additionally, polling on the project shows 75 percent support it, with similar levels of support across all demographics, including non-soccer fans.
“Is there anything in this country that gets 75 percent support?” Malik said.
If the interlocal funding goes forward, Kane said construction would ideally start in the second quarter of 2020, with the stadium done before the rest of the site in 2023.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of Gensler and Leland Privott with North Carolina FC.