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Sports

Raleigh MLS Bidders Unveil Plans For Stadium And Entertainment Complex

The proposed soccer stadium would be on state-owned land at Peace and Salisbury streets in Raleigh. Its "skin" would have LED lighting that changes colors.
North Carolina FC
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The proposed soccer stadium would be on state-owned land at Peace and Salisbury streets in Raleigh. Its "skin" would have LED lighting that changes colors.

A day after visiting Charlotte, Major League Soccer executives were in Raleigh Wednesday to take a look at that city's competing bid for a new professional soccer team. The visit included a major announcement - a new roofed stadium and entertainment complex at the north end of downtown Raleigh. 

The stadium development  would include apartments, shops and two office towers. It would be built in partnership with a local real estate developer on 13 acres owned by the state of North Carolina.  

North Carolina Football Club is leading the Raleigh bid. In a press conference that aired on WRAL-TV, owner Steve Malik said the group still has a lot of negotiating to do before the project can happen.

Steve Malik
Steve Malik

“This is the beginning of a journey,” Malik said. “We need to get there pretty quickly if we want to take advantage of the catalyst of an MLS franchise. And I believe that we can do that.”

Doing that would require working with the legislature and other state officials as well as the city of Raleigh, Malik said.

He said the complex would create about 2,000 jobs and have an economic impact of about $260 million, or $2.8 billion over the next 17 years.

“When you look at the location of this stadium, it'll be a crown jewel for this community,” he said.

MLS Commissioner Mark Abbott was at the press conference and says the stadium is just what the league is looking for. “You can't help but be really overwhelmed by the plan that's being presented here. It's a stunning stadium, in an incredible location proximate to downtown,” Abbott said.

Billie Redmond of Trademark Properties joined Wednesday’s announcement. She said that from a real estate perspective, the State Government Complex area is “underutilized.”

“The state is moving out of downtown rather than invest in renovation,” she said.  She said the project could total about $750 million in private investment, on a publicly-owned site.  The bid committee and developers will “continue the dialogue with the state,” she said.

Malik did not put a price tag on the stadium alone Wednesday, but the club has said in the past it would cost at least $150 million. Malik has not ruled out asking for public funding to help with the project.

Wednesday's MLS visit was scheduled to include a rally in downtown Raleigh Wednesday afternoon, much like the one Tuesday in Charlotte.

The MLS is expected to pick two expansion cities by year's end.

RELATED LINKS

July 19, 2017, NorthCarolinaFC.com, "North Carolina Football Club announces preferred location for entertainment, sports and athletic complex in downtown Raleigh"