North Carolina FC Stadium Plan Faces Funding Challenge

North Carolina FC Stadium rendering

The possibility of public funding for a new North Carolina FC stadium is becoming more complicated, as the proposal was not recommended by Raleigh and Wake County officials in a funding round.

Owner Steve Malik has sought to make North Carolina FC, which currently competes in Division II USL Championship, an MLS expansion contender by proposing a new stadium as part of a larger development. Malik and developer John Kane are expected to unveil plans for a 20,000-seat stadium and mixed-use development south of downtown Raleigh early next week, but the pair could be facing a new hurdle when it comes to funding.

To help fund their proposal, Malik and Kane were lobbying Wake County for $11 million annually in funds from the Interlocal Agreement over 30 years. Ultimately the plan was not recommended for funding by local officials, who are instead moving forward with discussions about other projects, including proposed renovations to PNC Arena. The possibility of public funding is not completely negated by this development, though any public dollars would now come from a share of $42 million in tourism money that will be spread among several projects. More from the News & Observer:

It’s unlikely the city and county would give the entire $42 million to just one project, said Assistant County Manager Denise Foreman. The proposed soccer stadium could cost anywhere from $150 million to $300 million.

“If (the stadium) was a minimum $150 million project and they were able to compete and get awarded all of the funds — which I think would be really hard to do — then they (would) still have a gap of $108 million they would figure out how to fill,” she said.

The city and county would have to create a process for organizations to apply for that tourism money. Wake County already has a $4 million “small projects” fund, which caps projects at $1.5 million. Elected leaders would have to decide if they want to cap projects in the “medium projects” fund, Foreman said.

Malik was not available Thursday. NCFC released a statement Thursday evening, saying the recommendation wasn’t surprising given they “haven’t yet officially disclosed our new downtown site, the economic analysis or the net positive benefit to the city and county.”

North Carolina FC’s original MLS expansion stadium proposal called for a new facility to be built on state-owned land in downtown Raleigh. That plan has not come to fruition, and it was learned this March that Malik and Kane were planning to shift the stadium site to a proposed development south of downtown Raleigh. The exact site of the stadium and development is among the details expected to be announced by the pair on Tuesday.

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