As we found out this week from the Triangle Business Journal, Steve Malik and his ragged band of investors (they are most certainly not ragged – I’m taking creative license) are down to 3 potential locations. So, let’s take a walk with ole’ Uncle Mike and discuss the current site and some of the other, more exciting options.
We’ll mainly look at the downtown options as I live in downtown and to me this is both feasible and sexy. But if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t have complete faith that the city has the foresight or the means to help this happen, plus a lot pieces would have to fall into place.
The “Probably Nots”
The Warehouse District: I see this mentioned a lot on local forums – in theory it sounds great and along with Gateway Center is a dream location, but where the hell is it going to go? I’ve google mapped the shit out of it and I just can’t see it.
St. Augs: This is one is out of left field, but St. Augs is in A LOT of financial trouble. I feel bad for even thinking of this as option, but it could be financially beneficial for both. To be clear, this would have to be some type of lease between the two, not a private entity taking advantage of a cash strapped institution. Where their current stadium sits, there is plenty of land for parking and I love the idea of a neighborhood stadium. This could also be a real catalyst for parts of east Raleigh. With that said, there is .01% of this being a possible option.
Gateway Center: The City of Raleigh put out a much referenced long term plan in 2015. It showed a Southern Gateway section, with a potential arena/stadium facility west of Memorial Auditorium. Here, a stadium makes a lot of sense because of the multiple uses beyond soccer. It could not only replace RedHat Amphitheater (which was only meant to be a temporary solution), but also provide a home for the Shaw Football Bears (said with a shitty Chris Berman impression). Great option! One problem, Exploris has already purchased most of that property and plans to build a 10 story multi-use facility. Maybe a deal could be worked out, but I highly doubt it.
Devereaux Meadow: Hugging Capital Blvd and Peace St, sits a beautiful, low-lying…state parking lot. Now the current home to the city’s waste disposal trucks, this site was once the home to a minor league ballpark for the Raleigh Capitals (among many other names). The location and views would be great. The stadium itself would have to be unique to fit in the slender parcel and traffic would be terrible, but it could work.
The “Most Like-lies”
Cargill Plant: I think of all the potential locales, this is my favorite. This plot provides a great skyline view of the city (I always prefer to come up Wilmington rather than South Saunders), it’s super underutilized and is another location that can have a catalyst affect on the southern section of downtown. With busing or a light rail stop, it would be easily accessible for all. I have a hard time poking holes in this location and can imagine this being the eventual location.
North Hills off St. Albans and Wake Forest Rd.: If you know one thing from the past decade of Raleigh development, it’s that John Kane and the Kane Realty Corp get shit done. The force behind North Hills (have you seen the renderings for Tower 4? Dope.) and the Dillon, has a tract of land remaining along St. Albans Dr. extending to Wake Forest with plenty of space for a stadium and parking. This move would be similar to the Atlanta Braves recent move to the new live/work/play facility in Marietta. May not be exactly what I’m looking for, but I tend to trust projects with the Kane brand.
WakeMed Soccer Park: We all know this a very viable and sensible option. It’s been a great home for years and probably wouldn’t need the full $150M to do something very cool here. But it’s not in Raleigh and it’s certainly not downtown! I like Cary a ton, but I have a hard time believing commish Don Garber wants a suburban facility for what would already be the smallest city to play in MLS. It may be convenient, but it will make us a far less attractive option.
These are all just one man’s thoughts. Feel free to comment and let us know what you think!