North Carolina FC and Kane Realty set to reveal plans for new downtown sports complex

North Carolina Football Club and N.C. Courage owner Steve Malik will join with Raleigh developer John Kane next Tuesday to reveal their plans for a sports and entertainment complex south of downtown Raleigh.

Malik and Kane have long sought to put a stadium in downtown Raleigh, and previously the two had identified state-owned land on the corner of Salisbury and Peace streets.

But, earlier this year, the group moved on to a new part of town for the potential stadium — this time along the South Saunders Street corridor, The News & Observer previously reported.

Malik told the N&O in March during a one-on-one interview, that he and Kane envision a North Hills-like mixed-use project around a stadium that would attract myriad events beyond soccer games. He also said the potential development of the 40-plus acres of land in Southeast Raleigh is not contingent on the club landing a Major League Soccer franchise, though that is a long-term goal.

Malik said a 20,000-seat stadium could also attract concerts, festivals, college football games and other events.

The exact site of the development and what it will include will be revealed next week during an event at Kane Realty’s Dillon tower. The group has focused on land off Penmarc Drive near the the crossing of Interstate 40 and South Saunders Street, the N&O has previously reported.

Malik, who bought North Carolina FC in 2015, and Kane, the head of Kane Realty, are seeking local funds to help lift the project off the ground.

They hope to receive funds from the Interlocal Agreement to finance the project. That money comes from the Wake County room occupancy and prepared food and beverage taxes. The tax generated around $55 million in the 2018 fiscal year. Money generated by the tax can only be used on tourism-related projects that are likely to bring more visitors to the county.

The group is one of several applying for the money, including the Centennial Authority, which wants to renovate PNC Arena. Malik and Kane are asking for more than $300 million to help fund the stadium, which would be paid out in $11 million chunks each year for 30 years beginning in 2022, they told the N&O previously.

And if public money isn’t allocated for the potential “billion-and-a-half-dollar” project, Malik said he and Kane would develop the land in another fashion.

The city has long targeted attracting development to the South Saunders Street corridor, which it views as the southern entrance to downtown. Malik said he thinks that will help the project win local funds, though in recent years concerns over gentrification in that part of town have increased.

The new site would also be in an “opportunity zone” that stretches from Red Hat Amphitheater to south of I-440. Opportunity zones are a new feature in the country’s tax code that allows developers to earn savings on capital gains by investing in economically disadvantaged areas. Those potential tax savings opened up a whole new realm of possibilities, Malik said, noting that the feature didn’t even exist when the club first announced its intention to build a stadium.

Malik told the N&O that his group also wants to build soccer fields in that part of town that the Southeast Raleigh community can use.

“That’s an area of our community that we can do more to bring the benefits of our game to,” Malik previously said. “You’ve got to have fields near middle schools, where kids that age don’t have transportation challenges and can get out and play.”

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