Local News

Expense Of Operating SAS Stadium May Fall To Cary Taxpayers

Posted March 28, 2004 11:22 a.m. EST

— It costs nearly $500,000 a year to operate SAS Stadium. The soccer stadium's major tenant, the Carolina Courage, folded with the WUSA last season.

The stadium's managers are working to make ends meet but want some help.

Fans were not the only ones happy to have soccer back in the stadium this weekend. The professional exhibition tournament held there was temporary, but the event kept the lights on for stadium manager Charlie Slagle.

Slagle is CEO of the Capital Area Soccer League, the group in charge of running the stadium. Slagle and Wake County, which leases the stadium land from the state, wants the town of Cary to pay for the stadium's maintenance.

"The park has been estimated to cost $400,000 all the way up to $700,000 a year," Slagle said.

That is money CASL does not always have.

"It's always tight," Slagle said. "You can't always expect event after event after event.

"Capital Area Soccer League isn't dealing with deep pockets. So, there are going to be lean years, and there are going to be great years."

Slagle said it would be better for the park if Cary and its taxpayers took over.

A Cary spokeswoman said town maintenance workers helped prepare the fields for this weekend's tournament. But she warned that a council vote to take on the stadium as a permanent responsibility is far from a done deal.

The ccouncil has been tossing around the idea of taking over SAS Stadium for about a month. Those discussions have been behind closed doors, so it is hard to gauge what is going to happen.

The council is expected to vote on this issue within the next month.

The tournament's marque matchup, the Kansas City Wizards against the Los Angeles Galaxy, was a chance for the stadium to show off. Thousands of fans showed up, but most of Cary's town council was in Arizona on an unrelated fact-finding trip.

"Hopefully, we've proved to Cary town council and the Cary town people that this park is worthy of being in their town," Slagle said.