North Carolina FC

NCFC, NC Courage Owner Unveils New Plans for Downtown Stadium and Entertainment Center

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.

The location of Downtown South and adjacent sites

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.

North Carolina FC

Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of Gensler and Leland Privott with North Carolina FC.

15 replies
  1. ronnie bucki
    ronnie bucki says:

    When will the Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park name go up on the park. There are many New Yorkers here including Buffalo Sahlen Hot Dog fans in this “Community Around Relocated Youngsters” (CARY)!

  2. George Jones
    George Jones says:

    not voicing opinion on the tax implications one way or the other but this does seem to be a perfect spot for this type development (redevelopment). multiple access from I40, placed in an area that needs a boost.

  3. Gabe Talton
    Gabe Talton says:

    It is hard to imagine that this County Commission is going to green light hospitality tax money for a stadium after the row over Crooked Creek Golf Course.

  4. Doc Thorne
    Doc Thorne says:

    I, for one, am not a ‘soccer crazy’, and I don’t/wouldn’t appreciate even one dollar of my tax dollars going to support Malik’s folly. But if Mr. Kane wishes to underwrite this project in total then by all means proceed full speed ahead.

    • Mark Neill
      Mark Neill says:

      But that’s not how taxes work.

      Once you pay tax, it’s not “your” tax any more; and we don’t get to line-item veto municipal spending projects.

      I mean, I don’t make any use of the whole Senior Center complex in Bond Park – but I don’t get to complain that “my tax money” is funding it. I live here, and my town/county funds it. It’s out of my hands.

      • Doc Thorne
        Doc Thorne says:

        I know that tax revenues do not work that way. I was simply registering my displeasure in this three-year soccer stadium project onslaught and the apparent “about face” by those who determine where tax dollars are spent.

      • Brent
        Brent says:

        I agree with Mark’s general premise, but the difference here is my tax dollars going to support a public entity such as the Senior Center vs. my tax dollars subsidizing wealthy private entities who want to reduce their risk.

        I’m with Doc on this one.

  5. Len Nieman
    Len Nieman says:

    So does this mean Cary’s portion of the Wake County’s hospitality tax will once again be funding a project that takes away from Cary, instead of bringing people in?

    • Lindsey Chester
      Lindsey Chester says:

      How do you mean? The portion of the Town’s Wake County taxes has already funded the expansion that is already complete at the current stadium location. We are not funding anything happening with the move. The park will still continue to bid and host NCAA championships and many other events. And will host the 2 teams until this other stadium is built, whatever date that may be in the future.

      • Len Nieman
        Len Nieman says:

        There are things in Cary besides the soccer park ‘hospitality tax’ money could be used for, that don’t involve subsidizing what’s essentially a private real estate development.

      • Mark Neill
        Mark Neill says:

        It’s easily arguable that at least some of Cary’s portion of the Wake County hospitality tax could reasonably be allocated to things like the Downtown Park or larger park improvements in general; improvements at Koka Booth (Especially with KBA moving to an open booking venue, it’s a bigger and much prettier location than RedHat in downtown Raleigh); additional access and improvements around the existing Wakemed Soccer complex and the future punch of Trinity through Fenton and into Cary Towne Blvd; or any other number of local improvements or new projects.

        • Don Frantz
          Don Frantz says:

          It is also easily arguable that Cary’s share of hospitality tax revenue would decrease should the county chose to fund the soccer complex. Cary is already a donor city in regards to hospitality tax revenue generated vs that which we receive. I don’t see how this helps that.

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