by Sam Hieb
In today’s News & Observer op-ed, Shaw University president Paulette Dillard promotes Raleigh’s proposed Downtown Entertainment District, which would be anchored by a $150 million, 20,000-seat stadium that ostensibly would lure a Major League Soccer franchise:
First, the combined economic benefits of the 20,000-seat, open-air stadium, housing, retail, office, hotel and dining components would yield an astounding $20.3 million per year in annual city and county property tax revenue. Thousands of jobs would be created during construction and, then, permanently, once the development is completed. Over the first 15 years, $3.8 billion in economic activity would be generated in Wake County. These benefits will occur with no out-of-pocket tax impact. All of the city and county revenue would be generated from activity within the new development, not from taxpayers.
Second, the location of the proposed Downtown South project will generate this economic infusion in an area that has not shared equitably in the boom experienced in downtown and northern Raleigh. This fact has been well documented, most recently in the 2017 county-generated plan named Wake County Destination 2028, which highlighted the need for development in the very location of the proposed Downtown South district.
Remember last week I posted about Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper pitching the idea of a new retractable roof stadium that would not only house the Panthers, but attract an NCAA Final Four and an MLS franchise. I believe there’s little doubt that this is an either/or situation.
As for Dr. Dillard’s Statement that the stadium and surrounding entertainment district will come at “no cost to North Carolina taxpayers”—funding ostensibly (word of the day) would come from the interlocal fund made up of hotel occupancy and prepared food taxes. Sounds too good to be true, and it usually is. Besides, stadium developers have to get in line for their cut of the interlocal fund. Stay tuned.