Wake County Commissioners greenlight renovations to Raleigh Convention Center, PNC Arena

Michael Perchick Image
Tuesday, August 22, 2023
Wake commissioners greenlight upgrades to convention center, PNC Arena
The move comes following years of efforts to draw more people to the region, as tourism leaders have previously voiced concerns about missing out on events.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Wake County Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted recommendations from county and City of Raleigh staffers to use hospitality tax funds on four major projects. It comes following years of efforts to draw more people to the region, as tourism leaders have previously voiced concerns about missing out on events.

"There's probably one or two groups every week that we can't even bid on because our Convention Center isn't large enough," said Dennis Edwards, President and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Last week, Raleigh City Council approved the same recommendations.

The Raleigh Convention Center will receive $355 million in hospitality tax funds to add 500,000 square feet and 30 break-out rooms to the facility. As a result, Red Hat Amphitheater will be relocated by one block to an unpaved lot by Lenoir Street Parking Garage.

"We have almost 25,000 people that have full-time jobs in Wake County alone just in the hospitality sector. So the more facilities and venues we create like this, it will create more jobs," said Edwards.

Outside the lack of space within the Raleigh Convention Center, Edwards noted spacing limitations of available hotel rooms within lacking distance.

"From 2018-2020, we lost over 180,000 room nights because we didn't have a hotel or a Convention Center that's large enough," Edwards said.

News of the development was welcomed by downtown business owners, including Krisha Sapkota.

"For small businesses like us, whenever there are big conventions, our big hotels fill up nearby. Obviously, that will give me a lot of business," said Sapkota, who recently opened Mustang House on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh, just a few blocks away from the Convention Center.

PNC Arena will receive $21.3 million in hospitality tax revenues annually for 25 years, funds which will go toward renovations and enhanced building infrastructure. The vote comes after the Carolina Hurricanes announced earlier this month that they would extend their lease at the site for 20 years.

An indoor sports facility in Cary will receive $5.35 million in hospitality tax revenue annually for 25 years, and be located in the South Hills Mall area. The site will include 100,000 square feet of indoor competition space to be used for a variety of events such as basketball and Esports.

"A rising tide lifts all ships," said Caleb Smith, owner of North Carolina Esports Academy, located in Cary.

Smith said his business typically sees bumps when Esports tournaments come to the region.

"Teams coming here training does help. Also, fans like to come here just as an activity to do either before or after the event takes place," Smith explained.

Edwards noted that it will likely take a few years for construction to take place on these projects, though they hope to begin scheduling events by the end of the year.