At a press conference and in a press release this morning, North Carolina FC—formerly the Carolina Railhawks—announced that, as part of their bid to join Major League Soccer, they had partnered with megadeveloper John Kane (think North Hills, Warehouse District) to plot out this rendering of a mixed-use stadium, which they’d like to place on a thirteen-acre parcel on the north end of downtown Raleigh. The parcel is state-owned, underdeveloped, and would, according to a Facebook post from Wake County Commissioner John Burns, go about where the outline is below.
From the press conference, while it’s still early days, it seems that the North Carolina FC would want some public help with the land and infrastructure but is willing to pay for the stadium—which will cost an estimated $150 million—itself, through a combination of investors and loans. The stadium’s first level would include shops and restaurants, as well as office and retail space, according to the team. According to an economic development report cited by the team, an MLS franchise and new stadium could generate $2.8 billion for North Carolina over the next seventeen years. (Economists tend to be very skeptical of such economic development projections.)
The unveiling comes with MLS president Mark Abbott in town, part of a tour league officials are doing of the twelve markets that submitted bids for four MLS franchises. While Raleigh has good demographics for the sport, it’s not a top-20 market, and the city’s other professional sports team, the Carolina Hurricanes, is hemorrhaging attendance. That being said, hockey has always been (at least to my mind) something of an unnatural fit in the South, and there’s a lot of enthusiasm here for soccer—and tonight, North Carolina FC would like you to show MLS exactly how much.
Tonight, in downtown Raleigh, from 5–7 p.m., the team is hosting a rally in City Market (214 Martin Street), with a full open bar, courtesy of Lonerider.
We’ll have more details as this story develops. Check out our other stories on North Carolina FC and its owner, Steve Malik, here, here, and here.