Will Apple help attract pro sports teams to Raleigh? – WRALSportsFan.com
By Chris Lea, WRAL Sports anchor/reporter
The Triangle area is already home to pro hockey — The Carolina Hurricanes, pro soccer — NCFC and NC Courage and high profile college athletics — NC State, North Carolina and Duke. But with Fortune 500 companies expanding into our area — most notably Apple — could more high profile sports teams be on the way?
“When (Apple) announced they were going to Austin, then (the City of Austin) got an MLS (Major League Soccer) franchise a few weeks after, so stay tuned,” said Steve Malik.
Malik is the chairman of the NC Courage and NCFC professional soccer teams. He’s been working on building a soccer stadium in downtown Raleigh. Malik says even though Charlotte already has a Major League Soccer franchise, Apple coming to RTP could mean one more for the Tar Heel State.
“Clearly we’re a different market than Charlotte,” said Malik. “You look at where (MLS) franchises have been located before — Philadelphia and Washington DC are mighty close. If you put drive-time population in there, we’re very significant. There’s almost 6 million people in a 90-minute drive.”
Lou Pascucci started the MLB Raleigh campaign almost three years ago to show this area has the capacity to support a Major League Baseball franchise.
“A place like Apple, they’re doing their homework,” Pascucci said. “They’re not just putting a billion dollars into a campus here for no reason. Our hope is that MLB investors take note.”
Pascucci noted that Raleigh is already larger than Kansas City, home to MLB’s Royals. He adds that this area is growing faster than other markets that MLB is considering — including Nashville, Las Vegas, Portland and yes, even Charlotte.
“If you think that with all of this growth and all the money pouring into this area that corporations and Fortune 500 companies aren’t following, you’re kinda crazy,” Pascucci added.