Baseball in Downtown Sketch

[UPDATE #5: Another submit by Will]

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[UPDATE #4: Will has submitted another round of sketches.]

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  • Railroad tracks remain unmoved, serve as backdrop for center field and soccer goal. (“Railhawks” takes on a new meaning)!
  • Single stadium provides for both baseball and MLS while fitting nicely into the footprint.
    -Dual-purpose stadium provides building funds from two teams instead of one.
  • I’ve measured, and both fields are regulation size. The soccer field is exactly the same dimensions as WMSP.
  • Multi-modal transit station–train and bus–serving stadium, Red Hat Amp, Convention Center, DECPA, and plaza.
  • Baseball stadium is inspired by an amalgamation of other parks: “Boxy” shape (Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia), sweeping outfield upper decks (Polo Grounds, NYC), home plate rotunda (Ebbets Field, Brooklyn), rooftop stands beyond tracks (Wrigley Field, Chicago).
  • Above CF/goal wall will be the tracks. Above and behind the tracks will be restaurants/bars with porch seating. On top of those restaurants/bars is stadium seating a la Wrigley Field.
  • Field itself could be artificial turf, as well as the dirt areas. Artificial infields are becoming popular in newer baseball parks (WFU, Duke, Holly Springs), and would make for easy transitioning between sports.
  • Backstop netting would also protect spectators from kicked soccer balls.
    -Outfield plaza features office and apartment high-rises, restaurants/bars, grocery, retail, and yes, the displaced rink!!

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A big thanks to reader Will who submitted this sketch of how to convert the southern gateway site, called Gateway Center in the downtown plan, into a possible baseball stadium. Will adds the following bullets:

  • New transit station @ South and McDowell to serve the ballpark, the convention center, RHA, DECPA, new hotels.
  • Parking at Union Station or Dillon with some kind of “tram” shuttle service from Union Station to new transit station.
  • Utilization of other existing nearby decks a la DBAP in Durham.
  • Railroad tracks would be wrapped around ballpark but integrated into the structure itself…imagine the tracks abutting the right field wall just above the fence…”hit train, win steak!”
  • Ballpark (capacity 6,000 – 7,000?) is drawn to same scale as other minor league parks, so it would fit here. It would, however, be “cozy” to fit in existing footprint and maximize fan proximity to field and players.
  • Grandstands wrap the infield, large patio area down 3rd base line, upper deck luxury boxes would wrap 1st base line for best skyline views.
  • Grass berm behind left field bullpens enhance fan access (HR balls, close to warming relief pitchers).
  • Outfield plaza would be zoned for restaurant/bar, retail, office (for those offices that would be displaced), and would include other family attractions: ground-based fountains, carousel, and the wintertime skating rink that will be displaced by Charter Square North.
  • City’s desired extension of Salisbury St. could still be achieved.

What do you think?

[UPDATE #1: Will has submitted another sketch with the view from South Saunders]

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[UDPDATE #2: Will has submitted a revised sketch based on your comments]

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-Stadium was moved toward the SW, allowing for the tracks to remain unmoved.
-Stadium was expanded to show what a MLB park might look like in this space.
-I removed the MLK-McDowell on-ramp to make room. Traffic would be re-routed in the following way: westbound MLK traffic wishing to go north on McDowell would instead turn left at the existing light onto the existing ramp, wrapping under the MLK overpass. You see the same configuration in Cary where westbound Walnut St. traffic turns left onto a ramp to enter US-1 north.
-The “home plate” corner would be snug against the MLK/McDowell intersection, a la the new Busch Stadium configuration in St. Louis (picture below).
-Plaza enlarged, more retail, restaurants, new parking deck, and a grocery store.

[UPDATE #3: Reader Stew has submitted an overlay of Carter-Finley stadium over the Cargill site, called “Cargill-Finley Stadium. This is similar to an overlay I did awhile back with the PNC Arena over the state jail site. Thanks Stew!]

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  1. Unfortunately, unless you can get NC Railroad to abandon those tracks, which will never happen, not only will they not allow them to be diverted, but also they own a 100′ width (50′ from track centerline) which I doubt they’ll allow encroachment into such as this.

    A stadium will have to go elsewhere. A smaller candidate being the big block adjacent to the current train station where Clancy & Theys has their office (south border is W Cabarrus). Or, assuming the state does shrink their campus and moves some operations out of downtown, maybe it can be squeezed into where the majority of the state parking decks are located, between Capital and N Salisbury.

  2. Leo,

    First, no soccer or put the stadium further South of downtown, maybe near I-40 ramp (yawn!!!, most boring team sport EVER).
    Second, this is excellent, what a great location and layout (with the offices, retail, Plaza and ice rink). Outfield open to skyline and future skyline.
    Understand the NC Railroad issue, but they should accommodate any development anywhere in downtown Raleigh. Transit running right to the stadium is ideal and convenient (a station there makes sense).

    Great concept, this should be used as the model going forward (excellent use of this piece of property)!!!!

  3. One more note: With the ballpark in this location, no need for Red Hat Amp.. Have the concerts on the ball field with skyline in background (great venue for entertainment).

    This is a great location and concept (this property looks and feels like it is specifically there for a baseball stadium).
    My only suggestion, stadium needs to seat 10K – 12K (this will be a popular area, plan for more than just baseball at this stadium).

    This is excellent, city needs to move forward with this plan (great job Will).

    This baseball stadium with a NEW PNC Arena would be a major driving force to downtown Raleigh growth for decades!!!!

  4. Yes Will , I love it ! If not there , I hope somewhere in our downtown ! A friend of mine is
    working on a baseball downtown project currently.

  5. I’m growing bored of the baseball/soccer talk. Unless it’s MLB, personally I’m not interested. Nobody visits a city to go see a minor league game, in any sport, let’s be real here (yeah, people from Raleigh go to Durham for the Bulls. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about actual tourists from other cities and states.) I don’t think sports are what define a city, and if they do, it must be a pretty boring city. We even have a professional hockey team here but I would never consider Raleigh a hockey town, nor would I ever put a Hurricanes game on my list of “Top 10 things you need to do in Raleigh” – even if they were a good team. I much prefer the other vision for Gateway Center – more skyscrapers, more density, more retail (maybe even a retail destination/shopping center), maybe a new indoor entertainment venue, maybe an arts center, etc. Wouldn’t we rather we focus on becoming the next arts capital (as we kind of have been) than a city that has a minor league sports team?

  6. Not to be negative, because I really would love baseball downtown. I’m a HUGE MLB fan and would love nothing more than for Raleigh to have a team. I think the demographic, the weather and the attitude of the city is perfect for a team.

    With that said (and I know I’ve said this before) I just think downtown has graduated from a city that would use downtown land to create a single sport specific stadium that only seated 10-12k. It’s just not worth it and honestly. Raleigh needs to honestly, at this moment, create a serious plan for a 35k seat stadium either here or somewhere else near downtown and start lobbying the MLB for an expansion team. Our growth numbers, income level, and demographics look very good to be viable in about 4 or 5 years when MLB has already said they’d be looking to expand.

    Now…before you get all crazy about the rules that you can’t have a MLB team within 25 miles of a minor league team, I want you to ask yourself where you read that rule? I’ve already looked around the nation and have found numerous cases where MLB teams exist within 25 linear miles of a minor league team. If you want me to go back and find these examples I will, but I’ve posted them here and on New Raleigh in the past year.

    Here is a stadium that sort of mimics the design proposed above, but seats 37k.

    If something like this gets declined by the MLB, then you move on to soccer, or to getting a PNC like arena downtown. But as much as i LOVE the sport of baseball, I just am really against throwing up a small stadium for the sake of bringing a few college games and some low talent independent league games downtown to a growing city where land is at a premium.

    Hell, just throwing a well done park down would give the DT residents better use of land than a small independent league stadium.

  7. I would love for Raleigh to have their own minor league baseball stadium again. Unfortunately, minor league baseball has since instituted a rule that 2 teams are not allowed within a 35-mile radius of each other. Hence, Five County Stadium where the Mudcats play is located just barely outside that radius.

  8. Don’t be quick to knock this down because of the railroads. Anything can be built on top of them. I’m sure they would love the air rights payments.

  9. The radius center being the DBAP. Both, the Mudcats and the Bulls would have to sign off on allowing Raleigh to have a team…not likely.

  10. Considering the utter devastation traffic in Morrisville and surrounding areas has been dealt by the railroads in last few years with their refusal to allow extra lanes and the recent reminders with the stuff in Micro and the two days notice of closing half the crossings in Cary and Apex of how much the railroads cooperate with local municipalities and citizens, I think the railroad thing is a much bigger obstacle that this imagines.

  11. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    First, those radius rules would not apply to an independent league team (Atlantic League, for example, which is expanding).

    Second, perhaps I could have “slid” the stadium further toward the SW, tightened up the concessions/vendors area…a cozier fit up against MLK Blvd, but allowing the tracks to remain unchanged and providing more room for additional office/retail infill in a larger plaza.

    Third, I wasn’t thinking so much of making this a tourism draw for out-of-towners, but more of a draw for Raleigh and Wake County residents to bring their $$$ to DTR.

    Leo, I just emailed you a rough sketch of the view from S. Saunders…not sure how to post in comment section??

  12. Let’s get a few things straight. Yes, there’s the anti-trust issue which doesn’t allow Major League Baseball teams to encroach on other markets’ territorial rights. And Minor League Baseball ‘follows along’ with MLB. Yet, in a conversation with the president of MiLB, he was asked how he would address Raleigh, if the situation ever came up for baseball in downtown (considering the county is now 4x the size of when the Bulls were granted “rights” to this region). He said, “We know the time will come when we have to address that.”

    i.e., All we gotta do is ask!

    Frankly, Raleigh and Durham are now two separate markets (essentially, Orange-Durham and Wake Cty), and you can thank the hard-working Reyn Bowman and the DCVB for that in recent years. He did a lot to highlight Durham. As a result, the argument could be made that once the market was split… viola, it opens the opportunity to contest any territorial rights. It’s nearly impossible for a Raleighite to make it to Durham for a weeknight game, without taking off work at 3pm.

    Ask Steve Bryant (Mudcats owner) if he wouldn’t move downtown tomorrow if a stadium were available.

    My students at UNC researched this subject. A couple of interesting findings:
    –A 2010 survey shows 66% of Raleigh residents have been to the Bulls. But only 33% have been to the Mudcats game.
    –In a 2012 follow-up survey of more than 325 Raleigh residents: A whopping 96% responded in the affirmative that “professional baseball in downtown Raleigh would positively impact the city.”
    –A whopping 92% would support baseball in downtown Raleigh.

    But here’s the real kicker, Raleigh doesn’t need “Minor League Baseball” anyway. It could go the route of the Atlantic League, or the American Association, in which the St. Paul (Minn.) Saints play in an ultra-green venue that’s an architectural wonder. Independent league baseball is high quality (often former major leaguers) and perhaps a deal could be struck to upgrade NC State’s ballpark for the time being? And plan for a proper park downtown.

    Or, it could be Major League Baseball, since the hottest corridor in the country b/w DC and ATL is open with Charlotte and Richmond no longer candidates with their new minor league stadiums.

    Sure, it’s pie in the sky. But this market needs some real vision for its downtown.

    Expanding the arts? Sure, but what arts bring 6-7K downtown on any given weeknight? Love the arts here, but they’re not particularly diverse. A few amphitheater shows, a handful of Fay St. festivals. But not weeknights all summer!

    Could be a multipurpose venue to include soccer. But, let’s be real, MLS will expand over the next decade, but it will be to big cities like Indianapolis, ATL, Miami, Minneapolis, San Antonio, and the like, long before Raleigh gets a nod.

    PS, if it were me, I’d build the greenest baseball park in the U.S. off S. Blount St. (Hammond Road), near I-40 in the industrial land across from the Cargill plant… right on the under-used Walnut Creek Greenway and a short bike ride to the fabulous Dix area. Would revitalize that area and help put kids nearby to work with summer jobs.

    We all need to drop the “Can’t-do” attitude … Move forward, Raleigh!

  13. @Lou – I like your thinking. I guess I should say I’m not AGAINST an MLB stadium (I am against minor league, obviously, and soccer but only b/c soccer suuuuxxxxxxx haha) but that specific location just doesn’t work. Imagine how insane the skyline would look from the “money shot” if Gateway Center was all high-rises and entertainment.

  14. Thanks for the render…its fun to see how these things might actually look. As a selfish aside, I’d love to see elevation renderings, both near and far.

  15. Can you imagine how perfect of a spot Central Prison would be for a sporting venue? The railroad goes right by there. If the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Boylan Heights got extended from Union Station, it could attract tons of people, assuming we get commuter rail someday Also, it would bring those who have been at Dix or Pullen all day and want something to do in the evening. I know this wouldn’t happen but it’s fun to dream

  16. Scott & Will , I so support your ideas on Raleigh baseball ! Hope that this will happen in downtown Raleigh in the next 5 years !

  17. I think the comment sections on this blog are the only place Atlantic League Baseball is discussed with such passion. It’s a b-rate league. The best pro prospects play in the actual minors and the MLB isn’t coming here either. Since Raleigh can’t peel the Mudcats away due to territorial issues, IMO we might as well give up on having a baseball stadium downtown. People will come to the ballpark for the experience, sure. But they’d come to anything for the experience if the price and/or location are right. An Atlantic League stadium seems like a waste of that location.

    The Hurricanes moving in when their lease at PNC runs out is the best solution. Let NCSU turn that area into their own athletic center. Having a huge stadium would generate foot traffic and be the linchpin downtown is currently missing if we are serious about becoming a true city with a nightlife that thrives outside of Fayetteville St/Glenwood South. Hockey might not be for everyone but when the team doesn’t flat out suck people show up in droves. A new arena might be what it takes to encourage the ownership to start investing in the team again. The NHL had the all star game here not too long ago and we were a competitive team once upon a time. Let’s appreciate the major league sport that we do have instead of pining for something else that’s lesser. The city’s plan is for an entertainment district so lets do it and be bold about it. The new arena could potentially bring in even bigger touring acts that currently skip PNC. We could still utilize PNC the same way Charlotte uses both Time Warner and Bojangles arenas to become the single regional entertainment destination. Duke Memorial Auditorium has clearly lost to DPAC for the Broadway stuff, so lets be the best in an area that no one else in the triangle can. A second rate baseball league full of washed up major league rotation guys and prospects who are mostly not going to be anything won’t get us to that point.

  18. There is probably a better use for land downtown than a baseball stadium. I’m a huge baseball fan, go to Bulls games and would love a MLB team close by, but lets use the land smarter. A ballpark would probably come at the expense of us taxpayers, and would sit unused for most of the year. Offices, apartments, and retail would be better year round. Since most sports owners manage to exclude their stadiums from paying property tax, another use would be better for the city’s bottom line. A MLB team would need a much larger stadium, so that site is out of the question for that. And a MiLB wold need approval from the Bulls, so no there also. If someone still wanted to build the stadium for an independent team or a Coastal Plain League (like the team in Holly Springs), you’re looking at an even smaller window for use, and most likely a lot of government subsidies to get it built, and then the owner would pocket all revenue while paying next to nothing back. At least something like the Performing Arts Center is owned by the city.

  19. @Scott
    You seem to have research on this issue. I’m a visual/ux designer and would be 100% all in for creating a data-driven, slick designed website that helps bring vision and lobbies the MLB for at least consideration for the Raleigh market. Let me know if you are interested in meeting up and discussing.


    I know a lot of you think an independent league would be a nice attraction for the tourists, but I’m not sure you guys are really understanding sports fans. How often have you visited a city and decided to go to a no-name indy league baseball game? The fact is sports succeed when there is passion. Without passion you arent going to fill enough seats to warrant the land costs. I think a major AAA team would do well in Raleigh because they are good family outings, but they also attract real MLB fans bc you get to see future stars RIGHT before they make it to the show. BUT…Durham has the Bulls and they aren’t going to allow another AAA team to compete with them, nor does it make much sense.

    Raleigh needs to go ALL IN and come up with a viable MLB plan. We need the stop with the ‘it will never happen’ talk. A look at the numbers would show that it is viable and with the luxury-tax in place, small market teams can find ways to compete, stay relevant and come up with money to stay afloat and build a contender. It’s time for Raleigh to stop acting so damn inferior and following other cities leads. It’s time we start thinking big, taking some risks and start making ourselves a true destination between Washington and Atlanta. I, for one, am sick of the lack of action because we might be told no.

  20. If Raleigh doesn’t do something.. Charlotte will take a MLB team from us. I’m not sure of the direction in which Raleigh is going. We don’t even have grocery stores, very little retail.. only a few tall buildings .. BUT.. plenty of apartments. Which I understand you need people in order to bring in restaurants and retail.. but we’re doing that.. so lets get some retail in here. Durham is passing us.. Charlotte passed a long time ago.

  21. Will, I think it is great you’re thinking outside the box and it has potential to be a landmark design. Think of the potential team names; the Raleigh Steel Rails or the Railroads. But I’m afraid the radii for the railroad tracks in your conceptual drawing are too tight for actual trains to travel. A minimum 720 foot radius is required for long, mainline trains. Two curves together generally have a need for a short straight between them depending on the use of the track. It might be possible if all the bridges are rebuilt further from the stadium area.

    Interesting idea!

  22. The MLB in Raleigh is pie in the sky. Charlotte has a larger population and the Knights moving downtown then having a huge attendance spike is the proof-of-concept that they would need to make a successful bid for either expansion or a relocation situation. If Montreal can’t get the Expos back I don’t think Raleigh has a shot of going from no team to MLB franchise.

    If we keep neglecting our NHL franchise we will lose it. The Hurricanes already have extremely low ticket prices and still can’t get attendance. It has a lot to do with the lackluster product they put on the ice. But with the amount of relocated northerners in the area who love hockey and the local interest they did generate when they had a good team, we have an under utilized asset. Bring them downtown, end their headache disputes over scheduling with NCSU, and revive the interest.

  23. Will & Leo , Many thanks for your postings ! This article has brought some great opinions &
    thoughts concerning potential Raleigh baseball ! I love this !

  24. Charlotte and Richmond both just build downtown minor league stadiums. They are likely out for an MLB team for now. (You’d think)….

    This leaves Raleigh as the last main east coast city that has the money, the size and the demo to support a team (in a few years).

    Please let me know if we can meet and get things going data-wise. Anyone with money to invest is going to want to see the raw numbers and some market research.

    Would love to talk to you about taking something similar to this and see if something of a larger scale would be possible, or where in Raleigh it would be.

    We’re going to try to make this happen by opening day.

  25. If a MLB team wouldn’t come here.. then what else would be great to bring to Raleigh. I really hope its not bringing the Canes downtown or PLEASE no soccer. What about a legit major music venue. A large stadium type with the ability to open and close to the outside elements.

    Also whatever happened to the talks of a Raleigh Riverwalk? Anyone that has been to San Antonio, knows that would be GREAT to have. And we have a great place for it already in place.

  26. I know everyone keeps saying they won’t come and that MLB is going international…but why not just try to at least make a pitch for a future team?

    I mean, I guess the frustrating thing to me is that just because isn’t the most likely scenario or because there are some barriers in front of it happening, people want to just scrap the idea without even giving it another thought.

    The triangle has a huge population that is pro sports starved and has no major sports attractions in the summer.I think Raleigh has an outside shot …but not unless a grassroots effort really pushes the idea.

  27. As expected a lot of great commentary from all sides and this is a discussion that should be had. Since I have been working on this for sometime and before anyone realized it was possible to work around MLB ‘territories’ I should probably make a few comments and I guess open myself up. 1. we are a long long long way from being able to support an MLB franchise and in fact studies show that most cities tend to lose money by having MLB and last time I checked this area doesn’t view money losing projects kindly. 2. In the early 90’s Raleigh declined to match the public funds being offered by Durham (approximately 13.1 million). Not many who were involved will admit this was a huge missed opportunity but we don’t have to dig deep to see the impact for Durham and lack thereof for Raleigh. The area known as American tobacco was a ghost town and the ballpark was the first step to that area becoming the nerve center for the city with about $1 Billion in taxable real estate assets surrounding it. 3. MLS will want a 100+million for a stadium that promises 20-30 openings. my opinion is it doesn’t work. Not only can the franchise not support the building, the other proposed uses would directly compete with existing entertainment assets in the area.
    4. NBA never makes sense here, NFL wont happen, MLB wont happen, We Have enough invested in the NHL and fear losing them each season due to financial difficulties. There are many if any other opportunities that come with such a low expense.
    5. now is the time to stand up and say why not us? Many do not realize but Independent Professional baseball made its start in our great state at the turn of the 20th century. There are 10 cities in NC with their own pro baseball team and the capital is not one of them. Rather than keep going I will respond to any questions or comments from this group. Thank you for those who share the dream and thanks to those who don’t but care enough to participate in the discussion.

  28. Soccer please. No baseball. Every anti-MLS argument in this comments section was used when I lived in Portland, and that didn’t turn out too badly for them.

  29. I would love to have a Raleigh / Atlantic League Baseball Team ! I love College & Minor League Baseball ! I would hope that Raleigh would fill the stadium every game like St. Paul, Minn. does ! They average 8,100 fans last season .

  30. baseball is dying a slow painful death in America. Its boring, takes way too long and unless you are from the Dominican republic, most millennials don’t care about baseball. Plus, it looks like soccer may have more momentum with the local tech executive purchasing the Railhawks and the City’s public indication that they would like to pursue a ‘Major league’ franchise, most likely being MLS. Nothing prevents Raleigh from building an MLS stadium AND trying to figure out how to simultaneously build a minor league baseball stadium.

  31. We actually have a legit shot at getting a top-level MLS soccer team. MLS has said they are interested in NC expansion.

    Why consider a B-rate baseball league when we can have top-level soccer?

  32. @Paul – yeah, for as much as I hate soccer, I would MUCH rather have a MAJOR LEAGUE soccer team then an “MLB Tryouts” team

  33. I hate to sound so negative I just simply DO NOT understand where all this love for $&@#ing minor league baseball is coming from. Also, @Scott – “Love the arts here, but they’re not particularly diverse. A few amphitheater shows, a handful of Fay St. festivals. But not weeknights all summer!” ……….. isn’t that exactly the reason we need to continue to expand the arts..? Good news is that the Raleigh arts plan was just adopted yesterday. This is the direction this city needs to keep moving. Minor League sports teams? Minor-minor league sports teams (atlantic league)???????? I just don’t get it.

  34. That said, I’m certainly not hating on Will’s sketch – it looks great, especially that drawing of a stadium with the skyline behind it – you have some talent, sir! If that spot was large enough for an MLB stadium and we actually had a good chance of getting an MLB team, I’d be all for it! But it’s not, and we won’t. It’s simply a nice fantasy.

  35. Hey everyone, thanks again for all the comments. I think it’s an interesting conversation, and I actually just sent Leo another sketch of what a MLB park might look like here.

    LHOOQ, I actually agree with you; I’d love to see the Hurricanes move downtown. I’d be much more likely to go see a weeknight game. But, when they came out and said they had no interest in moving, I started thinking about other uses for Raleigh’s Gateway Center. I’m not an architect or designer (obviously), but when the 10-year plan was announced, that site seemed like it needed something big, something to draw visitors and their $$$. If the arena idea was out, I thought, what about baseball? Anyway, I enjoy the topic, hope it leads to something big!

  36. @LHOOQ is giving the realism. I respect that baseball is near and dear to some of you. Maybe you played. Maybe your old man took you to games and that was a special memory. However, baseball is dying. The millenials and their ADD attention span has zero interest in watching slow baseball. You, as a baseball fan, are a dying breed. Also, Triangle sports fans have shown that they will not waste time going to see a sports team unless that team is excelling. This ain’t NY/NJ. The weather is too nice to entice us elsewhere rather than watch strangers play with a little ball badly. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a sports solution at all to helping downtown. I’d only consider a MLS team if that is really an option since we have a blooming Hispanic population + history with having one of the best developmental soccer leagues in the nation (CASL)…but I would even hesitate to promote that given the general American apathy towards soccer and the way our area fans flee at the first sign of mediocrity. It would be best to think of other downtown vitalization options (ex. the river walk someone mentioned, etc).

  37. Thanks, Will, for your most excellent work. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this thread and have learned a great deal about the issues we are facing (thanks everyone).

    Based on comments posted I have to conclude that the site in question is viable only for a venue such as PNC arena. There isn’t room for anything bigger (the size of a baseball stadium is too marginalized) due to railroad track issue. Some comments have encouraged that a soccer stadium be built but this parcel is too small for that as well.

    What about the idea of building a large sports complex along Wilmington St. where the Cargill plant is currently sited? In 2014 it was announced that soy bean processing was being idled (laying off 20 of 47 workers) with the facility now only being used for soy bean storage. Perhaps the city could purchase at a reasonable price as part of a redevelopment strategy?

    The City of Raleigh owns large adjoining parcel just to the south along City Farm Rd. The Raleigh Housing Authority owns adjoining parcel to the north. If old warehouses to the east of the Cargill plant were also included in the mix there would be sufficient room for a large MLS stadium (Carter-Finley would fit, I checked).

    In order to assemble all parcels into a contiguous tract South Blount St. would have to be closed but the road at this point is little more than a service road. Traffic from South Blount proper is routed onto Hammond St. by this point.

    A stadium built here would be in prominent view from both Hammond and Wilmington St. greatly improving the southern approach to our downtown. There is also an existing rail line spur in place that could be used to support a mass transit stop from Union Station. The city has significant land holdings south of City Farm Road as well. Perhaps this tract could be used for community purposes such as softball and soccer fields? Along with a professional stadium the entire area could be transformed into a large sports complex that would dovetail nicely into the existing greenway trail passing through. For perspective the walking distance to Moore Square is about 1.3 miles.

    I have no idea how much this proposal would cost but imagine it could only be accomplished if the city were to commit substantial funds to a redevelopment effort. What I do know is that the entire south side of downtown will continue to languish until the land use here changes to something more in keeping with the surrounding area. Instead of building a marginal stadium (due to space restrictions) on valuable downtown land let’s instead build a top-notch sports complex in blighted area and, in the process, transform the surrounding area (including the south side of downtown) into something much more valuable and useful.

  38. I have to agree with the Stew, the Cargill plant is the best option for an MLS stadium. Let’s focus on this. Imagine how the view from I-40 would change!

  39. Raleigh Riverwalk Please!

    Well.. I would love to see a stadium or riverwalk.. but the thing is.. we can’t even get a downtown grocery store. So seeing anything great like a riverwalk is unlikely. North Hills definitely seems to have their act together. They will soon have more buildings than downtown

  40. Though I could definitely get behind that new sketch if a MLB stadium could truly fit there. If we go for a new sport in Raleigh, it’s gotta be the big leagues.

  41. My general stadium thoughts have always been that they serve a downtown best, if they are immediately adjacent to, and not so much squarely within a downtown proper. Working within that idea, both this site, and Cargill are good candidates. An additional, very general thought I had (also keeping in on the downtown edge), was is it possible to work with, or remove the South Saunders (Dawson/McDowell connector really)/MLK-Western Blvd interchange in favor of an at-grade intersection and the freed up space be utilized in the stadium/venue effort. The interchange is of no benefit to commuters or downtown in any fashion. I believe it to be A) a relic of 1950’s planning (when Western was to be a freeway connected to the North/South freeway to be put through Oakwood) and B) the topography did actually lend itself to the east-west bridge over the gulch that the Dawson/McDowell connector lies in. I don’t see a *ton* of space to be gained, but thought the idea may fit into the overall scheme in ways I have not imagined, so am just tossing that out there to see what ya’ll may think.

  42. Stew , Virginia Beach is kind of doing what you mention , a sports complex area beside their stadium . Also , they plan to share their field with their local community college team . V. B. will be the 9th team in The Atlantic League . I would love to see Raleigh be the 10th team .

  43. There’s obviously a lot of passion for this topic given the number of posts. My thoughts:

    1. Minor league anything isn’t all that exciting. People want to see the best athletes competing at the highest level. The Durham Bulls are a unique case because they were featured in a Hollywood blockbuster not applicable to just about every other team. The stadium is as much an attraction as the team itself.

    2. While trading in baseball and other professional sports leads to roster turnover, nothing beats the turnover rates within minor league baseball. Prospects advance, are demoted, or often dangled as trade bait to other teams. That makes it incredibly hard to build a team identity, as many of the players could find themselves elsewhere before mid season.

    3. The population base in Raleigh is a good fit for MLB because there is an enormous number of New Yorkers and Bostonians with fewer folks from the midwest. If Raleigh could land an American League team, there would be built in interest when the Yankees or Red Sox roll into town.

    As a far as baseball goes, MLB or bust. Otherwise, I can go to DBAP to get my baseball fix.


  44. Duke University and Triangle Business Journal have studied the economic feasibility of various pro sports leagues in the triangle region. Because of our strong college presence and the Carolina Hurricanes, they found that MLB/NBA/NFL are not feasible for our area and would not be successful. The only exception was a MLS team.

    Here are some reasons why the Triangle region should join together and advocate for a MLS team:

    1) MLS has expressed interest in NC expansion.

    2) We have a local business man, Steve Malik, owner of the Carolina Railhawks, that has made it clear his goal of MLS expansion.

    3) Mr. Malik has expressed desire to move the Railhawks to DT Raleigh.

    4) MLS is the highest level of soccer in the US. A much more exciting option than minor-league or fledgling baseball league.

    5) Soccer is a growing sport and fits well with our community. We have growing Asian and Hispanic communities, a large student-body population, and strong youth soccer leagues (CASL, WAKE FC, etc).

    6) Baseball is a dying sport. In addition, we already have a strong baseball presence in the Durham Bulls. Raleigh citizens should support our Triangle neighbors and support the Bulls.

    Let’s join together and beat Charlotte for the MLS-bid.

  45. Take a look at the teams in the Atlantic League. Bridgeport, Lancaster, Long Island, Somerset, Southern Maryland, Sugar land, and York. Clearly this is a league below Raleigh’s standards. We need to aim higher.

  46. Agreeing with the suggestions for MLS. I’m not interested in sports typically… but I’d actually go to games for that if it were downtown.

  47. Paul , I know we & others completely disagree on the baseball project . Since we already have The PNC Arena , & a super nice Wake Med. Soccer Stadium , I would like to see the soccer stadium be increased 8,000 seats & have a downtown baseball stadium & have all 3 sports in Raleigh . Like Raleigh is a Up & Becoming City , The Atlantic League is a Up & Becoming Baseball League ! As you know , Rick White , President of the Atlantic League has 15 years of upper MLB management with the last 11 years being President/CEO of Major League Properties . Just 2 months ago , players from The Atlantic League has signed MLB contracts of 2 to 48 million dollars . Many MLB all stars have played or coached in The Atlantic League . Their names are listed on The Wiki/Atlantic League Site !

  48. Another stadium site rarely mentioned (perhaps because it isn’t quite big enough, and is under State control) is the Personnel Training Center on Peace St, and its crumbling parking deck. I bet you’ve got 4 acres there once the deck is taken out (really…it has rebar showing…it’s on its last legs). Peace St will much more walkable once it’s the streetscape and interchange projects are done, so such a location will be an easy pregame/postgame walk to Glenwood or downtown (or Seaboard of course). There is an existing new State parking deck and several surface lots (boo) that could easily handle the parking, and if you promised the State money for their use, they’d likely go along with letting the old deck come down…the training site is already being advertised for a ground lease. So having rambled out all that…is 4-ish acres enough ya’ll?

  49. FWIW, the new MLS stadium in Miami is 4.2 acres. So a Raleigh sized one would fit, Granted it’d not be down by the visitor’s/convention district, but my thinking was to stretch the ‘fun’ parts of downtown out some, and try to de-deadzone State government a bit.

  50. Never gonna happen. No owner, two teams within 25 miles and it’s a dying sport. The Railhawks have an owner with $$, zero competition, the triangle kids love it and a desire to move downtown. And, MLS wants the Carolinas and it’s a major sport, not a minor club team. As much as some don’t like soccer, it’s s no brainier.

  51. The issue with WakeMed Soccer park is that the MLS has said it won’t consider expansion into Raleigh without a deal for a new stadium in downtown Raleigh. The stadium would need to have 20,000 seats and a better road infrastructure than what the Cary facility has. WMSP would stay as the Railhawks practice facility and team offices, but games would need to be played in a downtown stadium.

  52. It’s illegal anyway – no stadium allowed within 50 miles of another. Thanks, Durham Bulls, for that rule. That’s why Zebulon has a team and Raleigh doesn’t. Just stop dreaming about it right now. And MLB will never consider Raleigh without a major public transportation system – that’s why NoVa didn’t get the Nationals, and DC did. I know people on the expansion committee. That was their #1 consideration.

  53. Bob G , The Atlantic League is a independent league that is not governed by the 25 mile rule ! The league started in 1998 when MLB executives did not treat two of their upper management fairly , so they formed this league ! A example of this is St. Paul , Minn. / The Twins . St. Paul is in The American Independent League . Paul , I was not aware of the MLS request of a downtown stadium . May be Neg. could be done on this ? ! I just won’t give up will I Paul ! I certainly do understand & respect your love for soccer because of the love that I have for baseball !

  54. MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in an interview that I recently watched on YouTube that they are only looking to expand into cities that have secured downtown stadium sites.

    Railhawks owner has expressed interest for downtown expansion VIA recent N&O article.

    Railhawks President Curt Johnson also recently met with Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

  55. Thanks Paul for the info. ! With the backing of Mr. Jim Goodmon & Others , soccer does have a very strong case for downtown Raleigh ! “No Doubt About This” !

  56. I’d vote for soccer! Moving the Railhawks DT would be ok by me. I think the Atlantic League would hurt the Mudcats and the Bulls. Can’t get behind that.

    MLB well that’s a diffrent story IMO.

  57. Adrian , From what I have been told by someone in baseball , if MLB came to the triangle , it would be to Durham due to Mr. Goodmon’s MLB contacts .

  58. Adrian , I should have written that MLB would
    “probably” go to Durham because of Mr. Goodmon’s MLB contacts !

  59. Railhawks….. I’d run the train tracks right thru the corner of the stadium. Amtrack target practice

  60. Could you imagine sitting in a professional soccer game and a train comes rolling thru a portion of the stadium? Fans would go ape-$#*t. Better yet, could you imagine riding on Amtrak’s Silver Star into Raleigh and as you enter the city you pass thru their stadium? And, their team is called the Railhawks

  61. I really don’t see anything related to MLB coming to Raleigh. The Durham Bulls wouldn’t allow it and who would blame them. They’re probably the most recognized minor league team because of the movie, have spent millions developing the stadium and area around it and would probably be the favorite for an expansion MLB team if one would come to NC. And, they’d block the Mudcats from moving DT.

    Therefore, the only alternative would be to go for an Atlantic League team. Virginia Beach is in the same situation as Raleigh, being close to the Norfolk Tides. It is supposed to field an Atlantic team this season and is building a stadium. So the question is, who is willing to build a stadium in DT Raleigh and bring in an Atlantic League team? And what happens if it struggles like Camden, which folded this year. Their stadium is now empty and the Phillies have territorial rights to keep them from bringing in a MLB minor league team. Just something to think about.

  62. William , The Camden team moved to New Britain , Conn. & I have heard that the Phillies will bring in one of their minor league teams to Camden . There is someone that is interested in
    Raleigh / Atlantic League Team . A city leader has told me that may be both for our city , but still a long way to go on this ! As someone with The N&O told me “Fingers Crossed” !

  63. Leo & Will , Again I can not thank both of you enough for starting this conversation ! For all the time spent Will on your stadium’s drawings ,& Leo for 9 super , super years of crucial downtown projects posted on your site ! “Many Blessings To You” !

  64. I’m loving the soccer stadium sketch. Is it realistic to have a train running through the stadium? Seems like that would be a safety hazard.

    It is obvious based on this thread that there is a lot of passion for a downtown stadium. It needs to happen.

  65. Paul, I sent Leo another drawing showing the elevation of the new stadium from S. Saunders area. When he posts it, you’ll see the tracks don’t actually run by the field at field-level. They would run along the top of a wall that runs behind the goal line and baseball center field. This would be a big wall–maybe 20′ high and running the length of the goal line and/or center field, so the trains would run alongside the field but elevated above the field.

  66. Really love what you are doing Will. In terms of feedback I will say that MLS has fairly stringent requirements in how a stadium can be configured including a minimum seating capacity of 20,000. They are apparently willing to bend the rules a little as Avaya Stadium (San Jose Earthquakes) seats about 18,000. I suppose we could consider this an absolute minimum size.

    I checked and Avaya Stadium would fit in proposed space if McDowell St. exit ramp from MLK blvd was removed. I know there’s been some talk in the past with putting this intersection back to at-grade again which would free-up a lot of valuable land for a stadium and otherwise. Those clover leafs and exit ramps burn a lot of space that could be used for much better purposes in my opinion.

    This parcel is currently owned by Duke Energy with an assessed value of 16mil. No idea how easy it would be to get them to give it up. The parcels on the other side of the RR tracks (Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and NC Teacher’s Associate) have a combined assessed value of about 43mil.

  67. Stew , Down the road & within the 10 year plan , there is a chance of having both soccer & baseball in the downtown area . Way too soon to give out any details but if you will , check out Sugar Land’s , Tx. Stadium ! Like St. Paul’s Stadium , Class A !

  68. Thanks for the info, Stew! And thanks for the sketches, Will!

    This thread gives me so much hope regarding a future soccer stadium.

  69. Want to see a baseball game? Get in the car and drive 27 miles east and see the Mudcats. Or, 28 miles NW to see the Bulls. The good citizines of Raleigh are never going to finance any part stadium under those conditions. Now a soccer specific stadium for a professional team, that is much different. Stop dreaming baseball fans and support the teams we have.

  70. Leo / Everyone : Man , Today we hit 100 comments on downtown baseball / soccer stadium possibility . Man , wouldn’t it be great to do like Memphis has done , both baseball / soccer downtown stadiums . Some nights both have games @ the same time . Thousands of spectators going to restaurants / bars after the game .

  71. Since Mitchell Silver left the city, nobody at the city level has been able to articulate a vision for DT Raleigh. I talked about the city needing to clearly define its vision and manage it in another comment thread that followed that video with the mayor. That got very little traction here but I strongly believe that this sort of thing needs to happen before we can even hope to get any real action on this topic. I, for one, think that there’s NO WAY that a stadium gets built on that land next to the railroad right of way. Railroads are famous for holding their turf rights. However, having it elsewhere DT is not out of the question.

  72. As I said before the 5.89 acre parcel we are talking about here is currently owned by Duke Energy and has an assessed value of 16 million. To make the parcel usable compromises would have to be made with the stadium due to RR right-of-way plus exit ramp from MLK to McDowell St. would have to be removed. Parcels across RR tracks have assessed value of 43 million and, including a city owned parcel would add another 9.07 acres. This makes for expensive land folks, especially for land that has a RR track cutting through the middle of it. I think these parcels are best used for other purposes besides a stadium that sits unused a lot of time.

    I proposed Cargill site earlier in thread … an eyesore to behold for sure that is holding back the entire south side of town. Assessed value of all parcels north of City Farm Rd. (including city owned lots and also privately owned lots across S. Blount St.) is $7.86 million for 28 acres. Raleigh also owns another 47 acres south of City Farm Rd. although I’m not sure how usable it is.

    I know this site leaves something to be desired and that the true cost to acquire land and prep site will certainly be higher but, still … way, way less than McDowell site. Transitioning the Cargill area to a sports complex would completely transform this area bringing up property values all around.

  73. Sammy , We can’t drive 27 miles to the east & 28 miles to the northwest to go to McDonald’s & Sammy , we can’t do the same for baseball either !

  74. I vote a river walk, more retail, a downtowan pharmacy/grocery (better than the cvs open 5 hours a day mon-fri) or a grocery store!!!

  75. @Will! I do like the sketches… I did notice that in the future plans for the city Salisbury street will be straightened out almost perfectly with the boundary you show for the stadium! Excellent!

  76. All of this sounds interesting But ask Yourself this,Would you really travel to Charlotte to see a Panthers game or Hornets, or Checkers Game. Look at what Charlotte is doing right now. I have visited Charlotte many times and find it to be a great City. Now, Why can’t Raleigh do the same or something Similar. Why not a Stadium in Downtown. Im all for a MLB or MLS team in Raleigh, But not Everyone is into Baseball or Soccer, Some prefer a Basketball or Football game.the question is How many folks will go see these events. All I am saying is that Build a Venue for Everyone to enjoy. Why not ask the people of this City what they want in their Downtown Area, take a Poll to see what they want as far as Sports or Entertainment venue in Downtown. Love the sketches that is drawn, hope for it to become a reality very Soon.

  77. I don’t want this to sound insensitive and I may be off base here but I remember reading quite a bit in the news about how bad of shape Shaw University is financially. Has there been anything discussed ever about it closing down or moved? Ideal situation would always be to have the university improve and prosper but if it did ever shut down, move or downsize into another location, this would be a perfect spot for the discussed baseball or soccer complex. Please don’t interpret this incorrectly, I am not hoping the university goes belly up but I didn’t know with all the financial difficulties they are having, if it had ever been discussed.

  78. @Maverick – If you are interested in BB I recommend you read the thread I’m posting this comment from. Hope it helps.

  79. I agree, Mike. Go NC FC! I’m very excited about the idea of having the highest levels of men’s and women’s soccer being played here in Raleigh.

  80. The press conference is reportedly being held downtown so hopefully the location of the announcement location is a hint as to where the stadium would be located. I personally was encouraged by the article that states Malik and the organization has been in discussions with MLS for 6 months which to me indicates that they have been trying to understand in depth what is needed in order to successfully bid for an upgrade to MLS.

  81. Jeff Gravely (WRAL Sports) mentioned last night a possible stadium location that will come from today’s presser…Seaboard Station. My only guess is that it would go across the street with some government help in moving NC DOE, Highway Patrol building and others. Should be an exciting day! Rally at City Market at 5!

  82. WOW! Malik just announced MLS stadium location at NC gov complex at Peace St! Watch live press conference at WNCN

  83. Kudos and thanks to those who drew up the plans for a baseball park in Raleigh, and I just wanted to say I support the idea 100%. As Raleigh is now larger than St.Louis, Minneapolis, Miami, Cincinnati, Tampa, and Anaheim, all cities with major league baseball teams, I think our area could support major league baseball. It certainly could support an Atlantic League team. Raleigh needs this!

  84. But all of those cities are part of regions that are much larger than Raleigh. Plus, MLB has expressed interest in expanding to Charlotte (as well as Montreal and Mexico City). I’d love to see MLB in Raleigh, but I really don’t see it happening anytime soon.

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