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Wake Commissioners Discuss Sports Facilities

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RALEIGH — The Wake County Commissioners' meeting Monday seemed more like the Wide World of Sports.

The two big issues were funding for Raleigh's new arena and the rebuilding of Five County Stadium in Zebulon.

First on the Commissioners' plate, the thorny issue of the entertainment and sports arena in Raleigh.

Now, only bad weather and construction delays can get in the way of theCarolina Hurricanesstarting their next season there. Monday, commissioners agreed to give the Centennial Authority the final portion of the funding needed to get the project done.

With little comment,Wake County Commissionersgave the Centennial Authority permission to tap a $5 million reserve fund, the final part of a plan to cover the arena's $26 million cost overrun.

"I feel good that we have a situation that we can go forward with," said John Converse, Wake County Commissioners Chairman.

To complete the arena by next fall, the Authority will spend up to $5 million from the city/county reserve fund, an extra $6 million from N.C. State, $7 million from other authority revenues, plus $8 million more from the Carolina Hurricanes. Under the deal, the city and county will have a greater role in the project.

"I think that it's absolutely critical that you tweak it, but don't screw it up," said Commissioner Vernon Malone. "In other words, don't bring it back."

Commissioners also had another sports complex on their minds. Five County Stadium in Zebulon is now undergoing a two-phase renovation. The county has pledged to go back to theCity of Raleighto find a way to jointly fund the remaining $5 million needed for the project.

"Is it gonna be an easy road? No, I don't neccessarily think so," said Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny. "But we're willing to go back, and we hope they're willing to listen and see if we can't go ahead and build a stadium Wake County deserves."

Matheny added that theCarolina Mudcatsneed to have the additional funding in place within the next month to ensure the second phase of the renovation will begin on time.

The first phase began a few weeks ago, right after the Mudcats season ended. The team expects to have that work done before next year's opener.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Ron Pittman, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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