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Raleigh City Council gives go-ahead for amphitheater plans

Posted August 4, 2009

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— The City Council on Tuesday voted to move forward with plans to design an outdoor entertainment venue across from the Raleigh Convention Center, even though the city hasn't found a corporate sponsor to share the cost.

Calling it a "good business venture" for downtown, City Manager Russell Allen asked council members for nearly $60,000 for plans on a scaled-back version of a 5,000-seat amphitheater at the corner of McDowell and Lenoir streets.

Plan moves forward for downtown Raleigh amphitheater Plan moves forward for downtown Raleigh amphitheater

Construction could cost an estimated $1.5 million, and the facility could open as early as next May.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said that the city has about $500,000 left over from construction on the convention center, which opened in September. The rest would come from revenue from an accommodation tax on hotels and restaurant meals that is split between the city and Wake County.

Philip Isley was the only City Council member to vote against the project. In light of the economy, he wants the city to wait a year to see if the economy improves and the city can find a sponsor. Concert promoter Live Nation recently backed out of a deal.

"I think doing this right now (with the economy the way it is) is a mistake," he said. "Sponsorship is the bigger issue. You need an enormous entity, I think, to finance this thing."

Meeker, however, said he believes that in the current economy, now is a great time to move ahead and that it would mean immediate jobs.

"With the economy the way it is, it is actually just the time you want to do projects, if you can," he said. "This money is sitting in a reserve account, which doesn't do anybody any good."

Councilman Thomas Crowder also expressed concerns about noise for nearby neighborhoods. That will be studied in the preliminary design plan.

The property, bounded by McDowell, Cabarrus, Dawson and Lenoir streets, was used to store equipment and supplies for the convention center construction.

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  • Nelly Aug 6, 2009

    colliedave - Their voting records are public info. You can do your research. I'm sorry you vote based on the letter by their name.

    This amphitheater and the possibility of an ice-skating rink on Fay. St. are the best ideas for the City that have come up yet. We probably should have done those before we built all the condos. Bring people downtown, give them something to do, they will eventually see the benefit of living, working, shopping, eating, etc. there. I will frequent both places. And we should be very glad that Live Nation backed out because their surcharges would shoot ticket prices through the roof, er tent. Hopefully we will get a local sponsor. Maybe Lichton?

  • colliedave Aug 5, 2009

    The problem is the upcoming election is supposedly non-partison so there will not be a "D" or ah "R" next to the names of the candidates thus making it harder to know the mindet of the individuals. Because the only individual who voted against the project is not running again, we need to throw out all of these bozos.

  • foetine Aug 5, 2009

    The RBC Center was supposed to be NC State's arena, but they've become merely a tenant in their own house. It's not a home court advantage when the Wolfpack hosts anyone other than junior high squad. The decade since RBC has opened, not much has happened around that area since ultimately nothing needs to happen. You drive past enough places to eat and hotel rooms. Plus remember that RBC is built on NC State's old toxic waste dump.

    Far as this outdoor space goes, if Live Nation won't chip in, why exactly do we think it's a great idea? And wouldn't that space do better as another parking deck.

  • charlesboyer Aug 5, 2009

    "They should refund the $500,000 to the taxpayers of Raleigh instead of wasting it on the amphitheater."

    You should say Wake County, because the source for the money is larger than the city itself.

  • charlesboyer Aug 5, 2009

    "this is a boondoggle." So is RBC. Out in the middle of no where."

    It was built on land owned by and donated by NC State University, shares the same parking complex as the larger football stadium and is in a rapidly developing area.

    On top of that, Gale Force Holdings operates the arena, is responsible for its maintenance and is responsible for its losses and profits.

    Yep, that's the definition of a boondoggle alright.

  • kmoody Aug 5, 2009

    People have lost their jobs, their homes and can't hardly afford to even feed their familes. This is absolutely ridiculous. If we have all this extra money we need to use it for the right reasons--------not more entertainment venues which not one will be able to afford to attend---

  • Bassgtrzan Aug 5, 2009

    Why a place that only holds 5000? Downtown Live has been drawing somewhere in the range of 10,000 this year...

  • animaenagerie Aug 5, 2009

    Very good question, chance...too bad Meeker & Allen will never be required to answer it.

  • coolwill43 Aug 5, 2009

    Another job that US citizens will not be employed to do. use E-verify. vote meeker and allen out.

  • demo7691 Aug 5, 2009

    Cary has a ampitheater and there is Walnut creek. If they want to have a concert have it in the convention center till the economy comes back. The city manager got a raise but no one else did. Sounds like Raleigh is run by a real bunch of winners. I hope Raleigh citizens vote the participating member out next election along with Purdue.

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