North Carolina FC to Continue MLS Expansion Pursuit

North Carolina FC Stadium rendering

North Carolina FC will continue to pursue a MLS expansion slot, and plans to keep working with officials on its proposed downtown Raleigh stadium.

On Wednesday, MLS announced that it was down to four finalists for two spots in the upcoming round of expansion. Those four options include CincinnatiDetroitNashville, and Sacramento, and MLS is expected to select its winning bids December. One result of that announcement is that the eight other bids that were submitted earlier this year–including that of North Carolina FC–are out as options for the upcoming round of expansion.

MLS will select two more clubs as part of a later round, and the other bids will still be considered. North Carolina FC is confirmed as continuing its pursuit, saying in as statement issued Wednesday that it “is firmly in the running for the final two expansion slots which will be selected from the 10 remaining expansion markets.”

In July, North Carolina FC unveiled a proposal that called for the construction of a new soccer-specific stadium and surrounding development in downtown Raleigh. The $150 million stadium would be built on state-owned land, thus requiring the relocation of state offices that currently exist on the site.

On Wednesday, North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik emphasized the club’s plan to continue its expansion pitch. He added that he has been in discussion with state officials, who have expressed concerns about the relocation of employees and offices that are currently on the site. More from The News & Observer:

NCFC wants to build a $150 million stadium and entertainment complex at Salisbury and Peace streets. The 13-acre site is part of the sprawling state government complex that includes 450,000 square feet of office space.

Malik said state officials have seemed more concerned with moving government employees and buildings than the specifics of his stadium.

“There’s a lot of concerns about tearing down buildings and moving people. Frankly, the stadium aspect has been very positive,” Malik said.

“People see the benefit of it and what it could do for the north end of Raleigh from an economic development standpoint,” he continued. “There’s also about an additional $5 million in income taxes from the additional jobs that the state would see as a positive.”

As noted, North Carolina FC’s bid was one of eight that will not be considered by MLS for its upcoming December announcement. The others are Charlotte, Indianapolis, Phoenix, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego, and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

North Carolina FC, which recently announced that it is moving from the NASL to the USL for 2018, currently plays its games at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary.

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