WakeMed Soccer Park’s main stadium now has a name of its own.
The 10,000-seat stadium, home to the men’s North Carolina Football Club, is now Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The Cary Town Council unanimously approved the name Thursday, marking the final step in a deal to bring a women’s professional team – the North Carolina Courage – to the town-owned stadium.
Steve Malik, owner of the North Carolina Football Club, formerly the Carolina RailHawks, in January acquired the women’s team Western New York Flash from the Sahlen Packing Co., and renamed the team. The North Carolina Courage will play its first game at WakeMed Soccer Park on April 22.
Malik agreed that New York-based Sahlen could put its name on the stadium as part of the purchase. Sahlen will pay $400,000 over five years through at least 2022. Cary will receive $100,000 of that money, and the North Carolina Courage will get the rest.
“It actually became an important part of the negotiations to acquire the Flash,” said Doug McRainey, Cary’s director of parks, recreation and cultural resources. “It was one of the things that helped close the deal. We see the whole thing as evidence of soccer’s growing importance in our region.”
Since the acquisition, Sahlen has been named the official provider of hot dogs at the stadium’s concession stands, Marco Rosa, spokesman for the North Carolina Football Club, said Tuesday.
Sahlen’s is already the official hot dog of the Buffalo Bills football team, the Charlotte Knights baseball team and the Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres hockey teams.
“This brand has chosen to associate itself with an exceptional class of facilities and teams around the country,” Rosa said. “We feel honored that Sahlen’s decided to come here to Cary and lend their name to this world-class facility.”
Cary’s most recent deal with WakeMed, in 2014, excluded the stadium’s naming rights for the first time since 2008, when WakeMed took over the 158-acre complex’s naming rights from Cary-based software company SAS.
WakeMed pays Cary $315,000 a year. McRainey said the town will review its contract with WakeMed later this year, as it does every three years.
“All of this furthers the town goal of making WakeMed one of the elite soccer facilities in the United States,” McRainey said.
Gargan: 919-829-4807; @hgargan