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Raleigh’s downtown soccer stadium needs to get in line–or does it?

Interesting N&O article by Luke DeCock on the downtown Raleigh soccer stadium and entertainment complex proposed by developer John Kane and North Carolina Football Club owner Steve Malik The headline…

Soccer stadium proposal hinges on tax money it was already denied

…indicates a straight news article, but but maybe it’s an opinion piece. Either way, the article expresses skepticism, especially since Malik is now saying he wants to jump to the front of the line for city-county hotel tax money that has been promised for other projects:

What wasn’t mentioned was that any money that goes to the stadium is going to have to come from the pools of money allocated by statute to sporting venues and the convention center. In last week’s recommendations, PNC Arena was given $8 million a year to fund $115 million in badly needed updates and $2.4 million a year was set aside for a new small-scale indoor sports facility, one of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitor Bureau’s top priorities.

Malik acknowledged Tuesday that he wants to overrule those recommendations and steer money to his stadium instead by politically mobilizing, among other constituents, NCFC’s massive youth-soccer arm on behalf of his proposal.

“The staff has a very difficult challenge in that the city owns the convention center, the county owns PNC, there’s a strong desire to support the status quo,” Malik said. “For a really visionary project, that’s going to require the leadership of the city council and county commissioners. We aren’t coming in at the end, asking to change the process. We’ve been involved in the process. We’ve been talking to the city council and county commissioners all along.”

With all this in mind, DeCock concludes:

Kane, curiously, said the entire development would not go ahead without the $13 million a year from the city and county for the stadium, a pretty flimsy hinge for a $2 billion project that puts more than a whiff of a financial threat behind all this mustering of political capital. There has to be a better way to build a stadium that just about everyone agrees would be an asset than this.

I’ll say it again—stay tuned, Raleigh. This is going to be very interesting.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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