'Canes Celebration Will Not Be Downtown
Posted June 12, 2006 7:54 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — Win or lose, a big celebration is planned for the Carolina Hurricanes. If the 'Canes bring home the Stanley Cup, the world will be watching. But because of all the downtown construction, it's likely they won't see the heart of the city. Raleigh leaders said it's a missed opportunity.
The Fayetteville Street renovation project is a little less than two months away from completion. So, the Hurricanes searched for another game plan, and another location to hold a parade and party for the team downtown.
"We wanted to have it downtown," said RBC Center vice president and general manager Dave Olsen.
But 'Canes couldn't find a place to accommodate the estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people that may come out to celebrate. Organizers said the party has the potential to be the biggest event ever downtown.
However, there is no space available near the new convention center because of construction. And with all the trees at the state Capitol, fans wouldn't have a clear view of the stage. Moore Square isn't big enough, and Glenwood South isn't wide enough.
"We don't want to disappoint people because they are eight city blocks away from the stage because the roads not wide enough," said Olsen.
"We are all disappointed," said convention center director Roger Krupa.
Raleigh leaders understand why it won't work, but it's still a crushing blow. National media coverage won't be focused on the center of Raleigh, and the chance to bring people downtown who don't typically come here is now iced.
"We are working so hard to make downtown the iconic location of our community, and here is the biggest opportunity we are going to have and we didn't make it work. It's just really sad," said Krupa.
The RBC Center and the 'Canes are now planning the big blowout and a parade for the big win at the arena. As if it were a regular game day, they will even encourage tailgating.
There is one last-ditch effort to do something downtown. Officials are hoping for a small ceremony at the State Capitol.
Had Fayetteville Street opened on the initial target date in May, none of this would even be an issue. However, the new opening date is slated for July.