North Carolina FC Unveils MLS Stadium Proposal

North Carolina FC Stadium rendering

North Carolina FC has released its proposal for a new stadium that would be built in downtown Raleigh, if the club’s MLS expansion bid is successful. 

While it was known that North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik has intended to pursue a new stadium as part of the club’s bid, some specifics of the plan were revealed on Wednesday. The new 22,000-seat stadium–expandable to 28,000–would be constructed on a 13-acre site that is bounded by Peace Street, Salisbury Street, Lane Street, and a CSX Rail easement. As part of a partnership with Kane Reality, the project would also feature office and retail space, as well as residences, hotel rooms, and conference space.

The stadium is projected to cost $150 million stadium and is not expected to require tax money, though the City of Raleigh and Wake County could be asked to contribute to infrastructure improvements. Additionally, the land for the stadium and development is currently owned by the State of North Carolina, which would be asked to lease the property for development. It presently features several state-owned buildings.

Time will tell if those pieces can fall into place, but Malik explained the reasoning for pitching the downtown Raleigh site as opposed to another location. More from The News & Observer:

This is a considerable pivot for NCFC owner Stephen Malik, who originally proposed and was seriously considering a non-downtown site that would have required little government buy-in of this sort. As plans moved forward, though, Malik said the push for downtown was too strong. This is what he wanted, what his fans wanted, what MLS wanted, all along.

“Part of the challenge was that as downtown Raleigh leaders heard about our plans, there was a groundswell of support for putting the stadium downtown,” Malik said. “There was some belief that if we had a downtown stadium there would be a lot of additional development around it, and it would help catalyze us to take our place on the next level.

“So many people jumped on board with helping us, we really had to give that some attention. Frankly, it’s the harder path, right? There are more challenges in working through the downtown option. But we’ve chosen to take on that challenge, because so many people believe it’s the right thing for Raleigh.”

Plans for the stadium were released on Wednesday, coinciding with a visit from MLS officials, including president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott. The appearance by MLS executives was also a chance for local supporters to back the bid at a rally in downtown Raleigh. Malik, for his part, appreciated the turnout among the community’s soccer faithful, and believes it made an impression on the league. More from The Herald-Sun:

“Huge crowd, super hot — people don’t care. They’re still out here supporting us, cheering us on. I don’t think it’s all about the beer,” North Carolina F.C. owner Steve Malik said. “I think it really made an impression on them. It clearly did. Mark (Abbott) was very animated and supportive.”

There has been a lot of change unfolding for North Carolina FC over the last several months, as the NASL club announced plans late last year to change its identity after playing several seasons as the Carolina RailHawks. Malik submitted an MLS expansion bid in January, putting North Carolina FC in the mix of 12 candidates to join the league.

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