After working for several years the North Carolina Football Club failed to receive a MLS bid, but why? Raleigh measured up to the other markets on many metrics. Raleigh already has a professional men’s soccer team, but so do many of the twelve MLS expansion applicants. The Triangle is a top 25 television market, but it’s not the only one. Raleigh has a large youth soccer culture, but so do other cities. The Triangle has a robust corporate community and a rising tide of millennial consumers, but other markets have more. But there’s one facet that still supersedes all others, with which a market can vault to the front of the MLS line, and without which expansion hopes will wither and ultimately die. The stadium.
Wake Med Soccer Park is the current home of NCFC. The small stadium only hold around 10,000 and is in a less than ideal area. By comparison the market who did receive MLS bids; Cincinnati, Detroit, Sacramento and Nashville have made demonstrable strides in their respective efforts to finalize stadium plans. Meanwhile, stadium snafus have derailed early sure-fire bids in St. Louis, San Diego and Charlotte.
So what is Raleigh doing about it? NCFC Owner Steve Malik has announced plans for a new stadium in downtown Raleigh. Malik and developer John Kane, have been working through the N.C. Department of Administration, which manages the real estate portfolio for the state. Malik says the next step in the process is a to-be scheduled formal presentation to the Council of State, which must vote to approve any lease or sale of state land. NCFC publically released plans for the stadium depict a state of the art arena, dedicated to both the Men’s and Women’s teams. Still Malik and NCFC remain enthusiastic about their chances at the next rounds of bids.
Malik also shared the partial findings of an economic impact survey, commissioned by NCFC, that estimated an economic stimulus of $2 billion for Wake County and $1.5 billion for downtown Raleigh on jobs, wages, sales revenue and tax revenue over 17 years of facility construction and operation. The study predicted pro soccer could add 1,960 jobs in North Carolina, including 1,470 in Wake County, along with over $5 million in additional annual state, county and local tax revenue.