After an energetic march downtown and some breathless anticipation, one native Raleighite couldn’t help himself: “This is exciting of course, but isn’t this really a hockey town?”
Time was, of course, that the proposal from the North Carolina Football Club to build a $150 million stadium and entertainment complex on a 13-acre site on Peace Street across from Seaboard Station would have been met with nothing but skepticism. In fact, there were plenty of cynics 20 years ago when the Carolina Hurricanes came South.
But now, with the Hurricanes in town for nearly 20 years (struggling right now, but hopeful) and downtown Raleigh having undergone a revitalization, the notion that Major League Soccer might expand to Raleigh doesn’t seem fanciful. And that’s good. City leaders are willing to entertain the notion – though the state of North Carolina, which owns the property that includes the Archdale Building, will have to go along, and that will be no mean feat.
MLS might choose Charlotte if it chooses to expand to North Carolina, and expansions in general always take time. Furthermore, both the city and state have to balance the benefits – the real economic benefits – and the possible drawbacks, such as the effect of placing a big stadium on a huge chunk of prime downtown land and how that might limit future development. Still, it’s exciting that the discussion is in progress.