Proposed Knightdale soccer complex on hold

aspecht@newsobserver.comAugust 8, 2013 

— Knightdale will not pursue county funding this fall for a soccer complex it hopes to build on Forestville Road.

Every few years, Wake County commissioners invest taxes collected on hotel rooms and prepared food back into projects that bring out-of-town customers to hotels and restaurants. Past projects include PNC Arena in Raleigh and Five County Stadium in Zebulon. Earlier this year, commissioners announced they plan to dole out up to $6 million this fall.

Knightdale – hoping to seize an opportunity to build a “destination” soccer park at a low cost – hired a consulting firm in June for $7,400 to estimate the cost of building a complex equipped with three lighted turf fields, seating for 1,000, and a central building equipped with Wi-Fi, heating and air conditioning. Wake Stone, which owns 130 acres off Forestville Road and Old Crews Road, agreed to partner with Knightdale in pursuing the project, according to Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen.

Building the soccer complex would cost $10.1 million, the consulting firm Knightdale found. So Knightdale would need at least $6 million in outside funding to pursue the project this year, Killen said.

But last month, Wake County announced that it plans to cap project funding at $3 million, and Knightdale doesn’t have $7 million to spend.

The funding cap “is really a nonstarter,” Killen said.

The cost estimate for building the complex was higher than expected, the mayor said, “but the county funding mechanism is a much bigger issue at this point.”

Joe Bryan, Wake commissioners chairman and Knightdale’s representative on the board, is couldn’t be reached for comment.

Commissioner Tony Gurley said the board could always override the $3 million cap with a majority vote, “but it’s always been our policy to spread as much money around as possible because the money comes from all parts of the county.”

Gurley said he’s familiar with Knightdale’s soccer complex proposal. The East Wake Soccer Association would manage the complex, and the Capital Area Soccer League would use it for its national showcase tournament in the fall that attracts 1,000 teams from 40 states and brings an estimated $9 million to the area. Charlie Slagel, CEO of the CASL, endorsed Knightdale’s idea because it would prevent his Raleigh-based league from having to use fields in Wilson and Rocky Mount during the showcase.

Despite the benefits of the proposed complex, Gurley said “it’s highly unlikely” the board would give Knightdale all $6 million.

Elsewhere in Wake County, Morrisville wants funding for four different projects, but hasn’t decided which to push to bring to commissioners. And Holly Springs is hoping the county will help fund the North Main Athletic Complex, a project that could cost up to $11 million and be home to a collegiate summer-league baseball team.

“We definitely want to continue to pursue this soccer complex idea,” Killen said. “We’ll just have to pursue other funding sources and time frames.”

Specht: 919-829-4826

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