Starbucks, Arenas, and Downtown Raleigh

RBC Center by Lalitree, on Flickr

After a hectic hockey filled weekend in Raleigh, the reviews are in. Raleigh was a fantastic host for the 2011 NHL All-star game. Articles and videos from the national media are wrapped up in this great post on Canes Country.

Clicks and Clippings: Soak it up, Carolina

Leading up to the event, talk of a downtown sports arena once again popped up, here and here. Comparisons between Raleigh and Charlotte are included in those articles also. This theme seems to pop up every so often and they all sound the same. If you listen to our local media, Charlotte has it right, Raleigh has it wrong. It’s always the same.

The arena topic in Raleigh is one of those few topics that fascinate me and I feel that no one is having an intelligent conversation about it. People love talking about how to put an arena in downtown but shouldn’t we stop to think about the why? Why do we need an arena in downtown Raleigh in the first place?

I thought this quote was interesting from Michael Farber about the area’s hosting of the All-star game:

The “non-traditional” All-Star venues have been problematic. And by problematic, I mean awful. Los Angeles swallowed the All-Star game without even bothering to chew while the mid-season hockey festivals came and went in Tampa Bay and Florida without leaving a footprint in the sand. The Atlanta event didn’t register within 100 yards from the arena. In all these cases, the tedium was the message.

But the Triangle region of North Carolina faced the challenges of holding an All-Star game — the diffuse nature of the area, the distance of the arena from the modest Raleigh downtown — and stared them down with a smile.

Venue will go down as biggest star of NHL’s All-star weekend:

The challenges of hosting a national event between areas that are miles apart here in Raleigh were overcome this past weekend and the reviews are incredibly positive. This same event was mediocre at best in cities much larger than Raleigh and with downtown sports arenas on their resumes.

So tell me, why was a sports arena in downtown needed?

Charlotte is Charlotte, Raleigh is Raleigh

One of the things that really gets to me about the downtown sports arena topic is that those that are for it seem to point out that the queen city has done it already. That and their light rail system, seem to be huge topics of comparison.

So what?

Raleigh is Raleigh, and what works for Charlotte does not mean it will work here. Charlotte can offer a downtown arena within walking distance to food and hotels. Why is this scenario seen as the best way to go?

In my opinion, the RBC Center’s current location actually makes more sense in West Raleigh than it would if in downtown. Most readers should know that I am a huge advocate for urban values in this city and hopefully it shows with this blog. But let’s be realistic. The development patterns here in the triangle are focused around moving in your car so the RBC Center on Wade Avenue makes so much sense and makes the experience of getting to it very easy.

I’m not sure of the exact number but I think it is safe to say that close to 90% of attendants to events at the RBC Center arrive by a car. The other 10%, at best, probably would account for taxis or charter buses. Imagine that same 90% figure, driving into a downtown Raleigh arena for an event. The current streets could not handle the amount of cars so more roads would have to be built to handle it. There is nothing urban about more roads in downtown.

Parking decks would have to be built, which cost much more then the surface parking lots at the RBC Center. This would most likely lead to higher parking fees. At $10 per space today at the arena, its anyone’s guess how much deck parking could be for an event.

The way I see it is that the RBC Center’s current location serves the Triangle and the surrounding areas very well. Fans from all over can drive right in and get out easily. A downtown arena would make the experience of getting to it more of an effort for those driving and would therefore deter the most loyal patrons. Those loyal fans are all of us who live here and support the teams that play there.

Charlotte decided to build downtown, or uptown if you live there, in order to better serve visitors from outside their region, visitors that were most likely staying in hotels in downtown Charlotte. That is their decision and it seems to work for them.

The question to think about is what you would prefer; an arena that fits into the development pattern that we have or one that is downtown, allowing visitors from hotels to walk to events and area residents still having to drive.

Stay with me as I try to get to my point.

Arenas Spur Development?

The downtown arena conversation sometimes includes other aspects with it. If the city funded an arena in one area, the thought is it will be a catalyst for development nearby. Let’s not forget that we are still waiting for that development to happen around the RBC Center today.

The reason the media describes the RBC Center as a life saver in the middle of an ocean is because the offices, shops, and condos never happened. At least, not to the extent that was envisioned back in the 90s. Now we are left with an arena all on its own with a few office buildings and no real atmosphere to cater to visitors. (well the Backyard Bistro seems to help out)

This is another reason why the downtown arena topic comes back every now and then. People see downtown Raleigh growing and more restaurants opening up then ever before. The area around the arena needs those restaurants. Downtown + arena seems to be a match made in heaven.

Rather then move the arena to downtown Raleigh, why hasn’t the area been studied and plans made to encourage smart growth around Wade Avenue and Edwards Mill Road? I’m starting to think that the best plan is to re-kindle the development fire around Wade Avenue and come up with a plan for smart growth that serves Raleigh and the arena.

Going forward, Raleigh should never build an arena with hopes to revitalize an area. Lesson learned, we move on.

RBC Center
by llnesinthesand, on Flickr

An Urban Arena For an Urban City

Downtown Raleigh represents only a small portion of urban areas in the city. If a downtown arena was added within a city made of suburbs, the arena would serve the suburbs, not the downtown. The conversation that is not happening is how to mesh an arena into downtown without creating an urban black hole when events aren’t happening and how to handle the massive amounts of traffic when there are.

An urban arena that serves the suburbs is one with a lot of parking decks. According to the RBC Center webpage, there are 8,000 parking spaces there. So how many decks does it take to cover 8,000 spaces? According to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, the City Center Parking deck has 1,000 spaces so we would need eight similar in size. The City Center Deck is approximately half a block in size so we’re looking at four city blocks worth of parking.

Since no alternative to driving exists, except for walking by the few thousand residents in downtown out of over a million people across the Triangle who will drive, a downtown arena is not practical. When you add the fact that our transit system is in need of an overhaul and a huge boost in support, the idea is very weak.

The conversation we need to have after deciding that Raleigh should build an urban arena is at what point in Raleigh’s urban growth do we move it out of the suburbs and onto the urban grid. That is what Charlotte did, they decided to pair up their arena with some urban form but still maintain suburban aspects. It might not have been reported that way but that’s what it looks like to me.

The arena in uptown Charlotte is surrounded mostly by surface parking lots and a few very large parking decks. The time I went to visit for an event at the arena, uptown was gridlocked with cars looking for parking. Charlotte is still suburban enough to cause the same traffic headaches even though the arena is in an urban area.

Their arena, however, has a light rail station and a major bus station adjacent to it. The opportunity exists for them to grow mass transit around the arena as a way to release some pressure off the streets but that may take a major shift in car culture in this country for that to happen. (or decades of intense urban growth in Charlotte)

If Raleigh wants to build an arena in an urban setting, the city’s own urban areas needs to grow as well. Mass transit needs to link the Triangle and be immersed in our local culture. Downtown Raleigh should be five times larger in size and the amount of people living car-free should be a sizable portion of the Triangle’s population.

In my opinion, an arena doesn’t make sense at all for downtown Raleigh and wishing we had one to serve the events of today is silly and getting a little old. So to sum up, Raleigh isn’t urban enough for an urban arena and we shouldn’t have the conversation of an urban arena until our urban areas can handle it. Make urban sense?

Stand Out From The Crowd

A blog I follow to satisfy my urban planning desires is The Urbanophile. Aaron Renn, an urban analyst and consultant, has an article over at Design Intelligence and I wanted to highlight a paragraph.

While cities may specialize in different economic niches and have a historic legacy that gives them a unique built environment, they increasingly have turned to the same standard issue playbook for their development: boutique hotels, upscale housing, generic offices, international fashion labels, celebrity chef restaurants, and above all, starchitecture. The sameness of so many of these cities can be readily seen by flipping through the likes of the Wallpaper travel guides to various cities. On many pages, one would be hard pressed to determine what city is being discussed without looking at the spine.

Century of the City: Design Intelligence

Renn suggests that for cities to stay sustainable and maintain a competitive edge, they cannot follow the leader and build like their neighbors. If Raleigh copied what Charlotte did, Raleigh would trend toward being that generic, glass towered city with the same amenities as everyone else. If all cities offered the same experience then the only difference would be who can offer it the cheapest and that is not a game I want my city to be a part of.

So Raleigh needs to be different from Charlotte, which should actually be a very easy thing for us. With an enormous creative class, why can’t Raleigh try to stand out in the crowd of American cities and offer something other than Starbucks and flashy urban amenities? Renn’s article points to Portland and how they embraced the street car when no one in America was. Now, they own that space and cities that want to revamp their mass transit is going to Portland for advice.

Back to the arena, who’s to say that the RBC Center is located in the wrong place? If we listen to all the other cities that have put their arenas in their downtowns then we are just standing in line and borrowing their ideas. We should always question the decisions we make in building Raleigh but maintain a focus on being competitive and not catching up to what others are doing.

Some may call it weird or strange to try something different then the crowd but that is how you get noticed.

And don’t tell me that doing things just like everyone else is required to land big time events after the NHL All-star weekend in Raleigh.

Let’s Start Thinking

Instead of copying another city, Raleigh should consider creative ideas on how to enhance the experience of the RBC Center in its current location. Ideas no other city has done and possibly grow new traditions that become known across the country.

There is one unique thing that the RBC Center allows us to do that downtown arenas cannot; Tailgating. Carolina Hurricanes fans are starting to get a national reputation for tailgating before games. I remember seeing extensive coverage of the activity during the cup run in 2006 by visiting teams’ newspapers.

Another idea that I feel isn’t embraced enough is Raleigh’s ‘city inside a park’ look. We have a ton of trees around here and that local resource should be protected and even incorporated into certain areas. What if the RBC Center parking lots had towering trees throughout it? That would most certainly stand out to the national crowds looking upon us.

I’m sure an open forum on this topic could produce many more unique ideas from people that live here. What we should do is recognize what other cities are doing but be smart enough to think for ourselves so Raleigh does not turn into a generic city of the 21st century.

Closing Thoughts

So apparently I have some thoughts on the arena topic.

Even though the idea of walking to and from major events at an arena is something that I want, I still believe it is best that Raleigh stick with the RBC Center’s current location for many more years. Let the naysayers talk and try to stir controversy on a subject that is tired and old. I simply won’t listen.

Raleigh’s execution of the NHL All-star game impressed the nation, we should be proud of that. Next year’s hosts are taking notice. Now that we have raised the bar, we should take a look at how to raise it even more and offer something that other cities cannot.

There is still so much we can do to expand downtown into something for Raleighites to use every day and for visitors to take away something unique. Let’s not copy another city or be jealous that they appear to have more. After this weekend, Raleigh needs a bigger challenge.

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  1. There are a couple of posts over at Endangered Durham (one of them: about the DBAP/DAP and where it’s been. Jim Goodman originally wanted to move it to a central location like the RBC, but it ended up in Durham. I know Raleigh had a chance at a downtown Bulls team which would eventually develop into an MLB team, but Durham raised enough money to change that. I can’t find the post detailing that.

    I think the DBAP works really well in downtown Durham, right off 147, but I can’t think of a lot of places in downtown Raleigh for something as huge as the RBC that have easy access to the highway.

  2. This is a good article. And as far as I’m concerned, RBC is where it is, and Raleigh won’t be building any new arenas any time soon so we might as well get used to where it is for now and make the best of it. The upside is, of course, it is convenient for the entire Triangle, not just Raleigh to get there…so there’s that.

    But I do want to make a point that hopefully will be remembered for the future. Many of us who wish that we could go back in time to the 1990s and convince the leaders to put an arena downtown have never said we want it in the core of downtown. You are right–the streets there would never be able to handle it!
    Personally, I’ve always figured it would have been south of it, in the mostly unused, less-dense areas between downtown and I-40. (Think the Saunders Street or Hammond Road corridors.) You’d have the access to the highway but also to downtown streets. And I think everyone who’s familiar with that area of town agrees it could have used the economic boost desperately!

  3. Great writeup! Whenever an event like this ends up at the RBC I do wonder about having something downtown. I think as a downtowner myself I just want it here so I can walk to it. You raise a number of excellent points about the RBC better serving the community at it’s current location.

  4. NO Parking DECKS for downtown parking arena:
    Parking decks will not have to be built for a downtown arena. Reason why: if your building a downtown arena, “THE CITY/EVERYONE” better think this through carefully.

    This is the only way to do it right (example): simply build a new arena as if your taking the existing RBC Center with parking lot and dropping it in downtown!!!!!!

    I do not care about budget or land (find the land, level any building in the way of a parking lot), everyone must make this work NO MATTER WHAT. REASON WHY? Tailgating!!!!!
    This experience cannot be taken away from OUR building or any event (especially Canes games). The college atmosphere has enhanced NHL games to a fantastic experience. And the key to that is the tailgating and love for the Canes (people get in the right frame of mind when they enjoy pre-game partying).

    A group of us were just having this conversation while tailgating at the All Star Game. If one thing is required, MORE grass areas/grass islands for BBQing. A downtown arena would have to incorporate more grass areas at a new arena (Charlotte did it wrong, it is SOOOOOOOO boring – plus, your walking into an empty arena for games)

    There has to be a parking lot around a downtown arena. NOONE wants to BBQ/tailgate in a parking deck (for that matter, you may not be able to do that due to fire code).

    People will go to restaurants after, before a game, the ONLY way to party is Tailgating!!!!!!

    Think this through Raleigh, no parking lot is a HUGE mistake, you will ruin the Triangle experience that we are so well known for prior to games (and after)

  5. You put a New RBC Center near 40 ramp (with parking lot) and have a overhead light rail (a continuous loop) to the heart (one going to Glenwood and one link going to F Street)
    It would be a 2 minute ride.

    You could also create a river walk between the arena and downtown (the buildings paste Ray Price are pathetic, clean out that whole area)

    Start thinking with vision Raleigh. We are tired of hearing about a budget (this should be a $300M arena and a $500 – $750M project – DO IT RIGHT FOR ONCE – this is the future).

    This is a project that would transform downtown Raleigh (which needs a project like this, downtown has no signature areas – we are long overdue – we do not need any FETZERS, COBLES or that early thirty something dork currently on city council involved)

    I agree with Thomas, must have a parking lot bigger than the existing one.

  6. Wow,

    Everyone stop talking about Charlotte (which i know all to well), we do not want to be Charlotte (they have done little right – they are not a college area, they are not a good sports town (matter of fact, one of the worst in the country), if not for BOA, they would have little downtown and for that matter, it’s a ghost town at night)

    Raleigh should be looking at global cities for vision of our downtown in 25 years (NY, Chicago, Sydney, Melbourne, Dubai, Paris, etc).
    We do not want to be Charlotte (they have three taller buildings than downtown Raleigh – who cares – it’s about the infrastructure and feel of downtown – Charlotte is cold, nothing but glass, no character and no history).

    Hey Raleigh, create your own vision and make sure you do not cut corners (do things right the first time). Future buildings are designed with character and height (we need to go vertical) and we do need a arena downtown.

  7. Through all of your ramblings about justifying why our arena was placed in an isolated cornfield, you never answer the question if your theory is so ‘spot on:

    Why is virtually EVERY major city in America moving their sports facilites into their urban cores?

    Hell, even Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Hickory, and Asheville have moved their sports facilites downtown.

  8. I love the arena where it is (and I live near Cameron Village–quite close to downtown).

    Great article, Leo! Hopefully, it’ll convince some of the naysayers!

  9. One more point, if our decision to put the RBC in a cornfield was such a good idea…….Why are we always having to defend the decision as you are trying to do in this “novel”.

  10. Great post. I think the RBCC is a little strange for being out where it is, but when I think about it, it’s convenient for me as a Durham resident — MUCH easier to get to than if it were downtown. It makes it more the Triangle’s arena, rather than Raleigh’s.

    If they’d add light rail service to it, not THAT would be awesome.

  11. Joe, I’m pointing out some positive points about the RBC Center’s current location. I’m also trying to put into question the idea of moving the arena into downtown and making a point that Raleigh does not need it at this point in time.

    There are many things we need before we can put the arena in downtown, our most urban area. I feel that many, including those in the media, feel we need an arena because other cities are doing it. Does this mean we simply copy what other cities are doing in an effort to keep up with the times? Absolutely not.

    Raleigh needs to make its own decisions rather than look to our neighbors for guidance. The NHL All-star weekend proves that we can handle a national event even though we don’t have what the larger cities have, including an arena in downtown.

  12. Sadly, you are correct. Car culture does not benefit from a downtown arena.

    Moving it downtown is both a waste of money and a waste of land.

  13. Really? Cities with much more urban fabrics than Raleigh as well as cities with much less urban fabric (ie: Hickory, Asheville, Durham) have all determined the value of the sports facilites downtown is exponentially higher than in a perking lot, just because surbanites complain about ‘parking’.

    If parking and convenience were such a value, nobody would ever attend a football game at Kenan Stadium or a basketball game at the Dean Smith Center………and yet they sell both out year after year, for decades.

  14. Joe, you are comparing us to other cities, the very point I’m trying to make us all not do. Whatever Durham, Hickory, Asheville, and cities larger than Raleigh have done, that is their decision and what works for them is their call.

    We are beyond arguing over the decision that was made over a decade ago to build in West Raleigh because that decision is done. Today though, we need to stop comparing ourselves to other cities and feel that we did it wrong because they have done it and we did not.

    But if you want me to compare ourselves to other cities, Ottawa has an arena, built in 1996, outside of its downtown, next year’s NHL All-star game host. This Sunday, the Super Bowl is being played at Cowboys Stadium, built in 2009, in Arlington, a suburb of Fort Worth which is next to Dallas. I’m sure we could go on and on with newer facilities built within the suburbs to match your evidence.

    I want to get away from comparing ourselves to other cities but I feel like people are saying we did it wrong because others are building downtown, most comparing us to Charlotte, when plenty of cities are building outside of downtown and landing huge events. Its a weak argument and the other side is not being brought to the discussion.

  15. Leo,

    what your blog states is a rationalization for why the RBC located where it is is a ‘good thing’. Your article’s intended argument may have been to not compare us to other cities but that’s not how your article reads.

    I acknowledge in my statements that ‘most’ cites are moving downtown. we all know about Texas Stadium HOWEVER, Dallas’ arena (American Airlines Arena) is located where……Downtown Dallas.

    My point is that MOST cities in America have elected to go the route of downtown facilities. The reason is simple: the largest overall economic benefit to the City is “DOWNTOWN”. You can have the largest ancillary economic effect in an urban core, NOT a cornfield.

    I will be glad to take the top 50 cities in America and do a comparison of where their recently built sports facilites are located. Want to wager as to which location will win out?

  16. Joe,

    I feel like you are making blanket statements and assuming that all cities fit into this kind of mold for economic prosperity.

    “the largest overall economic benefit to the City is “DOWNTOWN”.”

    If this statement of yours is true across all American cities, then you are correct, an arena in downtown Raleigh is the way to go. But there is no way that is true because the most growth in the Triangle has been in the suburbs. Cary has exploded, North Raleigh is huge. And all that growth is because of the downtown Raleigh economy?

    My argument is that you cannot take what other cities are doing and apply it here, to where we live. Even if 49 of 50 top cities have downtown arenas, that doesn’t matter at all.

    Show me evidence, strictly in Raleigh, that suggests a downtown arena in an urban setting, DT Raleigh, would serve more people than off Wade Avenue.

    I argue that because Raleigh’s development is mostly suburban in nature and people move in their cars, the Wade Avenue location works best. We will have to wait until our urban core and urban amenities, like transit, are built up BEFORE we build an arena downtown. How long that will be depends on politics and a whole list of other factors. (a topic for a later discussion)

  17. I’m a downtown lover and supporter, and I think Leo is right on this issue. While the current location for the RBC may not seem to make sense for Raleigh, it makes sense for the Triangle both in terms of geography and culture.

    Raleigh leaders should be looking at ways to bring development to the RBC/Wade area and connecting it to downtown with transit and bus service.

    That said, I would love to someday see a football field or sports complex near downtown where Shaw and St. Aug’s could play. It’s a shame these schools don’t have a home field to call their own.

  18. Sluv, before I got to the end of the comments I was thinking the same thing you said about a stadium for Shaw and St. Aug.

    I think that there are plenty of benefits for having some sort of sporting facility in or close to the urban center of a city or region. As pointed out, there are also benefits to having it somewhere else (ie. tailgating and highway access). Marrying these benefits is what Raleigh needs to take advantage of both… RBC, Carter Finley and the Fairgrounds will be there for a while and so will Downtown as well as NC State. All of these areas are some of the best assets of Raleigh’s built environment (sports, education, business, culture). Increasing density would only benefit those areas and the city as a whole. Connecting those areas with something other than streets would provide support for this density.

  19. Good post Leo! I agree that the area is in a good location where it is, even though living DT I would love to be able to walk to see the Canes play. The challenge for the city is to start integrating the areas of Raleigh. It would be nice to develop that area of the fairgrounds, RBC, Carter, and the Art Museum and incorporate these type areas into a larger downtown area via patterned developments and light rail and other transport links. That to me is the next challenge for Raleigh – after building up the core, merging an incorporating surrounding areas into the fold.

  20. Maybe we should remember how far we’ve come: From the Icecaps at the Dorton Arena to the ‘Canes and the ESA/RBC (I know that only half the people who live in Raleigh remember/were here when the Icecaps were around). But the ESA/RBC has the potential to make West Raleigh a great attraction and a creature all its own…problem is the very progressive mixed use development across from the arena was a 1/4 through construction when the economy hit pretty bad. That’s no reason to abandon developing another urban core. Raleigh and the Triangle work because of the variety of places to live, why not take that macro-advantage and place it in Raleigh city limits? Have downtown, have North Hills, have Briar Creek, have Crabtree…it all makes sense to me. If folks want to live in single family homes but be close to urban amenities then not everything can be downtown.

  21. I understand both points in this argument. But if you look at successful projects downtown that attract large crowds downtown, such as the new amphiteatre…it gives people who wouldn’t go downtown a reason to go. People shop and eat and discover a part of Raleigh they rarely go to. I think this is why the street level economy downtown flourished last year.

    Maybe more projects can be done before an arena is built to increase urban focus, such as a movie theatre, grocery store, hotel ontop of a mall (Baltimore harbor) and more apartment complexes downtown instead of 30 minutes north in Wakefield..

  22. The RBC is literally 10 minutes away from downtown. I don’t see what the problem is. Let’s stop focusing on where it is or where it should be. Let’s focus on the fact that the Canes are a great franchise and the All Star festival was fantastic! Everyone who complains about it not being downtown has never seen the great architecture on the inside or just how many visitors and noise the “in the middle of nowhere” arena attracts…

  23. Lots of good points..I agree with the article author that for now the arena is appropriately located. The parking discussion should also take into account the arena’s impact on property values. If an arena was built downtown right now there would be way to much cheap land available that would make too much money on parking, thus reducing it’s likelihood of being developed into something else that might actually contribute to a vibrant urban center. That’s not to say the arena would not make other development more likely, but parking would be an immediate demand that would turn a handsome profit, and I’m not talking about parking decks. Lots of small privately held lots would get paved over and start charging 20 bucks per car 2 to 3 nights a week rather than considering investing in built improvements. Let’s have this discussion again 20 years from now when the RBC center might actually need replacement or a major renovation. By then, maybe development downtown will have increased to a point that property values (and transit hopefully) make parking less financially viable as a principal land use.

  24. As many of you said, a lot of good points were raised. For whatever it’s worth, here is my 2 cents:

    RBC Center was built where it is now for a good reason, and I am glad about it. If RBC Center was in downtown today, besides the impact mentioned in your posts, we would be looking into relocating it outside downtown once it was declared obsolete, 10-12 years from now. This time, we have an opportunity to do this right.

    While I am big downtown supporter, I cannot see how viable RBC Center would be without additional amenities. A light rail line would be needed, for sure, and the R-Line would need another 15-20 buses to keep up with the demand; not a bad thing in the long run.

    So, what is the best course of action? There is not a single “killer” solution… We can urbanize the current location, as it was envisioned before RBC Center was built. Then, we can ensure that downtown gets developed properly, so a new arena would not occupy a prime location, where a mixed-use environment would make more sense. I agree about the comments on tailgating… This is part of the experience that makes the games unique and pleasant. Parking decks won’t work.

    Finally, there is a great opportunity to redevelop the area between MLK Blvd and I-40. Place the parking lots towards the highway – with a nice buffer to avoid creating an eyesore – and build the arena in a more urban fashion, with the front actually facing a street (see Santiago Bernabeu stadium, in Madrid; I know, it is a soccer stadium). Then build next to the new arena and watch the entire area flourish. To do this, we’ll need to extend our downtown a little further to the South. Quite frankly, the new arena doesn’t have to sit on downtown proper, but close to it.

    Sorry for the lengthy post…

  25. if we keep the RBC center in the middle of farmlnd west raleigh we ATLEAST need a light rail to the area

  26. Good point, Adam :LOL: On a serious note, a new arena will need to be built downtown. We have to have the infrastructure in place, good financing terms, many sponsors and a team that is competitive enough to draw the big crowds. The main question is: What is going to be NCSU’s reaction? They are the big players and influence such decisions. Building an arena just for the Canes would be risky, as the team may not be around in 10-15 years.

    But, as you pointed out – and I totally agree – a light rail system to connect the arena with downtown and other locations (i.e. Crabtree Valley) would be much needed if we continue to depend on the existing RBC Arena. Who knows, they may bring back the area plan they put together back in the days when they made the decision to build the arena in West Raleigh; in a more urban fashion, of course.

  27. Hearing so many comments is making me sick,but,Leo this is by far the best blog I ever read. Thank You. So much talk and chatter about downtown is driving me nuts. Don’t get me wrong folks here have very good and strong arguments about what downtown needs and so forth.Granted the RBC Center Im my opinion should of been in downtown,But it is fine where it is right now,Developers need to add more shops and hotels out that way and merge it with the downtown area along with Much needed Public mass transit.Its really not that far from downtown,say less than ten minutes,maybe.I Remember tailgate parties when I was at a Giants game in NYC,seeing a Carolina Huricanes game and tailgate party brought back memories for me.Raleigh has plenty of room for growth downtown and outside of downtown.I say what would be an idea is to connect West Raleigh(RBC CENTER) and surrounding areas to the downtown raleigh with a Full-time shuttle service From Downtown to the RBC Center with limited stops. Hillsborough St.,NC state,Merideth College,and NCState faregrounds.And when the Hockey season ends in April connect service to Rex Hospital.Ride fares may be down during the summer but with the State Fair and Hockey starting up rideship fares will only go up.If city officials and leaders just listen to the citizens of Raleigh,just maybe progress can move just abit more faster.

  28. My quick but main concern is simply the traffic. The parking situation when it comes to State Football is just chaotic and ridiculous. There are cars e v e r y w h e r e. Just a sea of vehicles lining the roadsides alongside Trinity. I understand this is about an arena, not a stadium. I don’t by any means think there should be a football stadium downtown. But just think of all the new parking that could be available if PNC does eventually come down in the event of a new downtown arena. Just a random thought.

    Also as far as the downtown arena discussion, I don’t think it’s a practical idea until there is a light rail or metro system in place.

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