by Sam Hieb
News & Observer reports Raleigh’s dream of landing a Major League Soccer franchise—complete with a brand-new stadium—is still alive:
Prolific Raleigh developer John Kane and North Carolina Football Club owner Steve Malik are now pitching an alternative location for a downtown sports stadium in Raleigh.
Malik, in an interview with Spectrum News, said that he and Kane have 40 acres south of downtown “under control” for a potentially massive redevelopment, which could bring a Major League Soccer stadium, hotels and other amenities to a part of town that is starting to see a wave of investment.
North Carolina FC initially bid for an MLS franchise in late 2016 and is currently competing against cities like Sacramento, St. Louis, Charlotte and Detroit for a team. MLS currently has 24 teams, but it is expanding to 28 teams, with Miami and Nashville already promised spots. Many people believe the league could have more than 30 teams one day.
A new stadium is seen as a requirement for landing a team, and so far, the group doesn’t appear to have had much traction with its initial site selection — state-owned land on the corner of Salisbury and Peace streets. That land would require the state government to agree to a redevelopment.
“We’ve got 40-plus acres we (now) control,” Malik said in the Spectrum interview. “With that much acreage, it is a little different than the thirteen acres we previously had, where the additional development was limited.”
That’s good–however there is still the issue of actually building the stadium, which Kane and Malik hope to do with assistance from Wake County’s “Interlocal Agreement,” which is funded through room occupancy and prepared food and beverage taxes. The N&O says the fund generated around $55 million in the 2018 fiscal year, and the owners are asking $11 million per year for 30 years beginning in 2020. And–you guessed it–the stadium is “contingent” on the Interlocal Agreement funds.