RALEIGH — When the Entertainment and Sports Arena was built in Raleigh, local leaders hoped it would lead to a boom of new construction. Two years later, that has not happened, but it may be a step closer. City planners spelled out their vision for the area around the ESA.
The arena area includes some of Raleigh' most recognizable landmarks -- the State Fairgrounds, N.C. State's Veterinary School and the ESA, home to pro hockey and college basketball. But it has not attracted hotels, restaurants, and other businesses you usually find around a top-notch sports venue.
"Cities like Dallas, Tampa, Atlanta, Denver, [places] where they have new arenas, all of them have growth of new businesses around them. That's what we would like to see," says Jim Cain, president of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Cain says he would like to see a three- or four-star hotel built nearby. The team needs it to accomodate the NHL draft and the All-Star game. City planners have finalized their
vision for the area
, and it includes a hotel.
The arena area plan suggests a hotel could be built north of Trinity Road or on 159 undeveloped acres at Wade Avenue and Interstate 40.
The plan also lays the framework for restaurants and retail businesses that would support Carter-Finley Stadium, the ESA and the Fairgrounds.
"A lot of members of the Authority see that as being an entertainment center, similar to what we have downtown in conjunction with the fairgrounds," says Curt Williams of the Arena Authority.
According to the land-use plan, there are other changes on the way for that part of town. N.C. State's veterinary school is expanding. The state Department of Transportation may move its Blue Ridge Road offices to a different location.
City planners also suggest some cosmetic changes like adding landscaping to hide the huge parking lots at the fairgrounds.