The Progress & Future of Cary’s $193 Million Indoor Sports Complex

Cary, NC — Cary Towne Center, once slated for redevelopment as mixed-use, is now under consideration for a 239,000 square foot, $193 million indoor sports facility.

The Backstory

Like many malls in America, Cary Towne Center has seen an erosion of its business model, with three of its four department store anchors (Sears, JC Penney and Dillards) closing over the last few years. With ownership changes and the fallout of plans to bring IKEA and Top Golf to the center, plans to wipe the slate clean got in the works early last year.

In 2019, Town Council voted to turn the 87-acre site into a Mixed Use District – businesses, apartments and retail.

When did an indoor sports complex come into the picture?

Plans changed when Wake County put out a request for funding proposals following their 2018 completion of their Destination Strategic Plan.

This Wake County plan outlines a need to strengthen the county’s competitive position as a sports tourism destination. The Wake County and Raleigh leaders involved in the plan agreed to allocate tourism money on an indoor sports stadium and the proposal request was designed to attract developers, governments and other interested groups to apply.

Cary Submits Proposal to Wake County for Funding

As a result of Wake’s request for applicants, Cary began looking at using the Cary Towne Center land for a community recreational space. In combining the citizens’ desires to see the Cary Town Center site used for something more special and the fact that Cary has been assessing its needs for indoor recreation, specifically in western Cary, Cary put in their proposal.

According to the Town website, “This [indoor sports facility] could be used to supplement and/or replace the aging and outdated Herb Young Community Center.”

On Tuesday, January 21, Cary Mayor, Harold Weinbrecht met with Mayor Pro-Tem Don Frantz and Town Manager Sean Stegall to discuss the proposed venue following the town’s January 16 proposal submission to Wake County.

“We spent most of our time talking about the multi-purpose recreation venue that the town is proposing to the county. We were also able to look at preliminary renderings. If this venue comes to fruition it will be an amazing place that will serve not only Cary citizens but the communities around us,” said Weinbrecht.

Stegall, in his Town Manager report the same week said, “On Thursday [Jan. 16], we made our formal presentation to the RFP submittal joint evaluation committee for the indoor sports facility.” Stegall went on to say, “Our 15- minute presentation was followed by over an hour of questions. My primary message was that supporting our partners is our top priority. The team expects to make its recommendation to Raleigh and Wake County on February 10 and 11.”

Latest Updates and Next Steps


Graphic of the entry-level floor of the complex.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners and the Raleigh City Council heard presentations earlier this week about the project and will consider the proposed complex at their upcoming meetings.

Both boards must issue their approvals before any spending from the tourism tax can be put toward the project. Cary has requested a sum of $35 million.

According to WUNC, Wake Commissioner Susan Evans had this to say after the Feb. 10 presentation.

“I just want to say how perfect I think this location is. Not only does it help revitalize the Cary Town Center that very much needs some new life, but this is such an accessible location,” said Evans.

Details of the proposal include:

  • 25,000-square-foot space for multi-purpose events
  • 239,000 total facility size of the complex
  • An entrance facing the intersection of southeast Maynard Road and Walnut Street
  • Projections to attract 161,400 overnight visitors by the fifth year of operation
  • 12 full-size basketball courts (convertible to 20 volleyball courts)
  • Designed so that half of the court space could be converted to an arena with a 4,000-seat capacity
  • E-Sports Amenities
  • 4 full-sized locker rooms
  • A full-service restaurant
  • Space dedicated to box office/ticketing and facility operations
  • Childcare space
  • Weight room
  • Workout facilities
  • Walking track

See the full proposal.

Recommendation of the Wake County Evaluation Team

During the February 10 presentation to the Wake County Board of Commissioners, a recommendation was made that the City of Raleigh and Wake County commit funding of up to $2.36 million per year for 25 year. Should this come to fruition, it would total a contribution of $59 million. This would make up just over 30 % of the total estimated cost of $193 million and well surpasses Cary’s requested amount of $35 million.

Project Timeline

This is the projected timeline of the project which can be found in Cary’s proposal to Wake County.

Crucial Meetings in the Coming Days

Monday, Feb. 17 the Board of Wake County Commissioners will meet and Tuesday, February 18 will be the next Raleigh City Council Meeting. If the proposal is approved in both meetings, the boards will work closely with the Town of Cary over the next several months to further solidify development plans. Then, the funding agreement would be brought back to the table for approval by all three entities, the Town of Cary, The City of Raleigh and Wake County.

Story by Ashley Kairis. All renderings courtesy of the Town of Cary.

10 replies
  1. Shane
    Shane says:

    This article should be updated to clarify that this proposed sports complex is only taking 1 of the 19 “blocks” of the new development. People are under the false impression that this is replacing the previous redevelopment plan. It is just one small part of it.

  2. Robin Crumpton
    Robin Crumpton says:

    I am all for ways that citizens can recreate. But, can’t we involve activities that are not all team oriented? How about spaces for outdoor activities? Add green space for outdoor hikes (you might have to plant some trees) or a bike ride around the complex? How about indoor bmx or jump tracks? Climbing wall? Indoor ski run? Think outside the box please!!!! Facilities for young and older people. I just get so tired of the same old fashioned way of thinking. It feels like this was designed by people who are not very active or very narrowly active.

  3. 26-Yr Resident, Age: 74
    26-Yr Resident, Age: 74 says:

    TOC wants Cary local hotels/restaurants to get business for all those AAU events that residents now drive to Greensboro, Winston-Salem to pay high admission ticket prices and spend money away from Cary.

    As a senior, I am thrilled to see indoor walking track so I don’t have to go on the now-unsafe greenways, with all the long-leash dogs and cyclists racing by me on the narrow pavement.

    I suspect the new sports arena will only take up a block or two of what is already planned.

    And, for now the nearest hamburger for that whole corner is the nearby McDonalds.

    And, I hope TOC sells the $$naming rights$$ and doesn’t call it Weinbrecht Coliseum or something to help minimize taxpayers subsidizing the cost of running it.

    And, here’s my vote for Culvers running the in-house restaurant!

  4. Mike Babuin
    Mike Babuin says:

    An outstanding big picture idea but….$193 million for basketball convertible to volleyball? Why is it that we need even more basketball courts? Every other indoor sport is always relegated to the back of the bus at the bequest of basketball which is perennially worshipped as golden. In this area badminton, table tennis, squash, and volleyball are ALL busting out at the seams. All private businesses that handle these sports are maxed and yet, once again basketball is the primary target in the crosshairs. I fear this is an Edsel waiting to be built unless other sports that cater to more than the 18 to 30 year old demographic are given equal consideration, equal representation, and permanent fully dedicated space – not just a token ‘convertible periodic cameo appearance. Lighting, noise issues, and flooring requirements, are ALL different and need to be thought out by people that are endemic to all sports. Have experts in other indoor sports been sought out to serve on a steering committee? (no). There are many real time models that exist for cary/Morrisville in other sports that demonstrate profitability. In fact Town of Cary itself made more revenue on table tennis programs prior to 2014 than they did for basketball…and yet…all this plan talks about (in the article) is basketball as a primary anchor sport. Why not open the brain just a bit wider to see the potential for greater things that not only serve a wider swath of the taxpayers but also lets make this plan a proper one not just a glorified palace for basketball.

  5. Len NIeman
    Len NIeman says:

    I don’t see any mention of what Turnbridge Equities, who purchased CTC last year, has to say about all of this. Are they even involved, or did the Town buy the property from them?

  6. Joe
    Joe says:

    It seems to be rather late in the process to be informing the general public about the plans for an indoor sports complex at the Cary Town Center site. Does the current zoning allow for such use? Are there to be no public hearings for the community to offer comments or objections? In the past months I have read the “updates” on the progress of the redevelopment at Cary Town Center, and I don’t recall the mention of an indoor sports complex. In the “update” regarding the final rezoning for the redevelopment of the mall site, the indoor sports complex was not mentioned, and yet, it had already been in the works. Where is the transparency? I was hoping for better retail options on this side of Cary. I am also concerned, among other issues, about the increase in the amount of traffic increasing on Walnut Street which is already heavily traveled.

  7. Susan
    Susan says:

    This doesn’t seem to go at all with the other development in the area….particularly the long-awaited Fenton. I much prefer the development proposal already approved by the Town for a multi-use retail/hotel/restaurant/apartment or condo development. The visual impact of a large sports arena on that corner, combined with the increased traffic that will impact easy access to Fenton, just seems like a very bad idea…even if there’s free money involved.

  8. Liz Ryan
    Liz Ryan says:

    Stupidest idea ever. The ENTIRE site given over to organized sports? I agree with the previous comments on traffic, shopping, etc. At least they aren’t proposing a professional sports arena.

  9. Bob Blackmun
    Bob Blackmun says:

    A correction: 4 of 5 anchor dept. stores have closed — Macy’s was the first to close, and a question: assuming this proposal is instead of the proposal from the current owners of the Cary Towne Center that the Town has previously approved, have the owners agreed to sell the land, and if so who is responsible for demolishing the current buildings)

  10. Becky
    Becky says:

    What will the town have for Seniors?
    I would like for Belks to stay. Cary already has little retail shopping.
    If I was looking a home I would look a place with better retail shopping. Morrisville is the closest descent shopping center. It has enough stores you can eat and shop. Crossroads is to wide spread and poorly designed for traffic flow. Accident waiting to happen. They have some nice stores but you feel like you go to one store or move your car. This isn’t a enjoyable shopping place for the senior.
    I realize malls are going away but please provide us with a nice retail store like Belks in Cary.
    I have seen the young working out in the Mall. Maybe Cary will become only a place for the young beside the ripoff Senior Living that is around three thousand a mouth. Cary needs more affordable living for Seniors. The only place I know of HUD does on N Harrison.
    I use to really enjoy living in Cary. I now find I need to go to Raleigh for a shopping experience.
    Cary even lost their Sams Club. Sports isn’t everything. I do realize money is the name of the game.
    What happen to the Harrison side of Cary?
    The roads aren’t handing the traffic now.
    You will see less of my money. Cary Mall got four hundred a month until the stores left. I shop Belks a lot if that leaves I want retail shop in Cary.
    Morrisville is opening a very nice remodel gym with pool. They will have good programs for Seniors.
    We like walking in the Mall so a nice walking area would be good. My family pay Cary taxes.
    Cary needs to take care of their own.
    It seems all the things I liked about Cary are gone. I got run over from walking at the dog park off Maynard. The bikes took over and the kids with riding boards. I got knocked down by one so I stopped going.
    I guess the big thing will be grocery stores one on every corner. I am feeling Cary is only for the young.

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