The city of Raleigh proposes plan to expand sports facilities to grow tourism
The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau proposed a new strategic plan to create sports facilities to grow tourism in Wake County. The plan is needed to expand a tourism business that could host more than 75 events, including sporting events, entertainment and small conferences/meetings and consumer or public shows, at a stadium, according to the city’s destination 2028 planning.
Earlier this year, cities like Charlotte and Raleigh were reportedly interested in getting a new Major League Soccer (MLS) team but both were eliminated from consideration, as the MLS narrowed the list of potential cities for expansion clubs. The league has named top finalist cities for new teams: Nashville, Tennessee, and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Despite the unsuccessful bid for the 2020 locations, tourism leaders urged the city to expand more large sports facilities that could host multi-uses events rather than just hosting soccer games at the MLS stadium.
“There are definitely some opportunities to be a catalyst for growth and (have) a direct impact,” Dennis Edwards, president, and CEO of Visit Raleigh, told The News and Observer last week Thursday. “But it’s only going to be successful if it’s identified multi-uses. It’s going to work if it’s strictly for soccer. So are there ways to use that stadium for other events really year-round versus just soccer games.”
GRCVB, an official and accredited destination marketing organization for all of Raleigh and Wake County, contains sports-related recommendations that proposed to the city to construct 100,000-to-150,000-square-foot indoor sports complex that could be used to host youth and amateur games as well as tournaments for about 4,000 fans and spectators.
The plan for Raleigh/Wake County includes the development of the Blue Ridge Corridor, an area that surrounds the proprieties such as the North Carolina Museum of Art, UNC Rex Hospital and nearby PNC Arena and Carter-Finley Stadium. GRCVB also proposed a plan to develop a “sports, entertainment, arts, scientific, medical and agricultural campus,” including renovation to PNC Arena, to enhance the visitor experience and tourism destinations.
Some of the key recommendations include renovation of the Raleigh Convention Center that looks like “headquarter hotel” with 400 rooms, strategies to improve the area’s reputation around esports (hosting video games competitions and gaming tournaments), strategies to enhance its international tourism business (increasing visitors from Canada, Europe, China and India), among others.
In efforts to advance the tourism industry’s growth, the organization aims to reach approximately 21.7 million visitors annually in Wake County by 2028. More than 16 million people spent $2.5 billion while visiting the county last year, according to visitRaleigh.com.