Some form of public financing could be an option for a proposed North Carolina FC MLS stadium, according to club owner Steve Malik.
Last July, the club unveiled a proposal for a new stadium as part of its MLS expansion bid. That concept includes the construction of a new soccer-specific stadium and surrounding development in downtown Raleigh, with the project taking place on state-owned land that features several state-owned buildings.
When that plan was initially unveiled, Malik had indicated that the facility itself would be privately financed, but that public money could be requested for related infrastructure work. In recent comments, however, he suggested that the notion of public financing has not been completely dismissed. Malik also noted his willingness to consider a potential oversight model, pointing to a local authority’s role in overseeing Raleigh’s PNC Arena–the home of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and North Carolina State basketball. More from The News & Observer:
After originally saying that the 22,000-seat stadium would not use any public money, outside of infrastructure improvements, Malik indicated all options were on the table.
He laid out a scenario where the stadium was financed for $13 million a year, estimating that the city and county would each get an economic boost of $5 million in return, plus another $1.3 million in hotel taxes.
“The net difference is less than $3 million a year,” Malik said.
Malik said he was willing to consider a quasi-governmental board like the Centennial Authority, which governs PNC Arena, to oversee the stadium and any public money involved. In that scenario, North Carolina FC and the NC Courage, the women’s team Malik also owns, would be rent-paying tenants in the stadium, as the Carolina Hurricanes and N.C. State are at PNC.
When North Carolina FC unveiled plans for the 22,000-seat stadium last summer, it was competing in the NASL. However, it made a change in leagues last November, announcing a move to the USL after the U.S. Soccer Federation revealed in September that it had denied the NASL’s application for Division II sanctioning in 2018.
As for where North Carolina FC’s MLS expansion bid goes from here, that remains to be seen. The club was not included in a field of four finalists considered by MLS in December, when the league selected Nashville but announced that it would hold off on decisions regarding other expansion bids. There are numerous questions about how the remaining MLS expansion process will unfold, but North Carolina FC is still proceeding with its push to join the league.