RBC Center considered over the hill

September 16, 2009 4:48:43 PM PDT
Raleigh city leaders are brainstorming ideas to build a new arena like the current RBC Center.The RBC Center serves as home ice for the Carolina Hurricanes and home court for NC State's men's basketball team, but the 10-year-old arena is already an afterthought for city planners.

"When you get into that 25 to 30 year period which is not that far away then you need to have a new facility in place and start to talk about it now," Charles Meeker said.

Mayor Meeker said he wanted to build the arena in downtown Raleigh to help revitalize the Capital City, but NC State leaders had other plans.

"The chancellor and athletic director for NC State wanted to have what they hoped would be a single purpose facility for basketball, similar to what the Tar Heels have in Chapel Hill, it turned out to be a multi-purpose facility, but any event we couldn't get cooperation in the early 90's with the university on that," Meeker said.

The RBC Center has been a successful multi-purpose facility, but it stands practically alone surrounded by horse pastures and has never paid off for nearby restaurants and retail shops.

Meeker said the advantage of a facility like the RBC Center wasn't just all the events inside of it, but the spin off from it.

"In terms of people wanting to go to hotels restaurants and shopping, having it near center city makes a lot of sense," he said.

But the first step is identifying an eight or 10 acre site where a new arena might fit in.

Everything is being considered, even the current site.

"I know there's not much around the RBC Center, maybe a Wendy's so it would be really convenient to walk to a restaurant right afterward," Raleigh resident Laura Wiggins said.

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