by Michael Lowrey
Seems that Charlotte isn’t the only city with a minor-league soccer team owner with major league ambitions. Per the Raleigh News & Observer:
The Carolina Hurricanes aren’t moving to downtown Raleigh any time soon, but don’t rule out professional soccer.
Raleigh leaders envision an entertainment and sports center on the southern edge of downtown. It’s part of a 10-year vision for downtown’s future, which also includes hotels, office space and a possible expansion of the Convention Center.
Nothing is set is stone, city officials say. Raleigh doesn’t even own most of the property near Martin Luther King Boulevard and McDowell Street, where city officials would like to see a large venue. But a city rendering of a potential downtown complex raises questions about the future of PNC Arena in west Raleigh.
The Hurricanes National Hockey League team has a lease with PNC Arena until 2024, said team president Don Waddell.
Meanwhile, the N.C. State University men’s basketball team isn’t interested in moving from PNC to a downtown site either, said Fred Demarest, associate athletics director for communications and marketing.
But Steve Malik, owner of the Carolina RailHawks soccer team, said he thinks the Triangle is ready for Major League Soccer, and downtown Raleigh might be the place to make it happen.
“There are a lot of people interested in where pro soccer is going,” said Malik, who bought the RailHawks, part of the North American Soccer League, last fall.