OakCity16 | Indy Week

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Re: “Does downtown Raleigh really need a new stadium?

I believe the article needs some context on how MLS is financing its current crop of downtown stadiums. The author calls private financing an "anomaly," but it's really not.

In the next generation of MLS stadiums that are located in downtown areas, you have seen a private public partnership that see the owners pay for the majority or all of the stadium cost. In the early days of MLS, the league and owners were desperate for soccer specific stadiums to control revenue streams. As downtown land and development were expensive, and MLS did not yet have the political clout to build in the urban core, they looked outside of the city. Suburban municipalities were eager for the development and notoriety that comes with a burgeoning professional sports franchise. That is how you end up with tax payer financed stadium in the outskirts of big cities: ie: Commerce City (Denver), Frisco (Dallas), or Bridgeview (Chicago). These stadiums have seen some struggles with attendance.

MLS 2.0 has seen its fortunes heightened by focusing on building its stadiums in downtown locations, close to its millennial fan base, and mass transit locations. Owners have seen the success, and are now willing to pay for the majority of stadiums, with some publicly provided development costs. If you look at the next crop of MLS stadiums, all are lead by private owner led financing. Instead of tax payers financing the whole stadium, they are using public-private partnerships to help with infrastructure costs and development, land acquisition, or favorable lease terms. These are tools Raleigh has been using for other types of private development for years.

As Raleigh searches for ways to expand its appeal, a downtown MLS stadium that is majority privately financed would be a boon to the city. Thousands of people would be able to walk and take transit to games, spend money in downtown establishments and across the region, and further fuel growth in the urban core.

Expansion slots for MLS are finite, and competing cities like Charlotte are eager to make their case. Public private partnerships have been the norm for many years now, including all across Raleigh. If the city does not want to miss the boat on a downtown professional sports team AGAIN, I suggest they spend less time debating the merits of the role of tax money in private development, and more time figuring out a way to create a transformative downtown project that would help give Raleigh the "big city" status it seeks.

29 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by OakCity16 on 01/13/2016 at 10:12 AM

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