January: World University Games Update

Welcome to our first monthly eNews Update for 2024! Last year proved to be a very exciting and momentous one with the award of the 2029 FISU World University Games to North Carolina USA. During 2023 the Local Organizing Committee for the Games focused on planning, development, and fundraising efforts which resulted in securing the initial Games partners and supporters you see included towards the end of this update. A significant investment from the State of North Carolina, together with a major partnership with Capitol Broadcasting Company and a local-government leading commitment from Wake County have helped us get out of the blocks with a great deal of momentum, but now that we are less than 5.5 years to the Games, more hard, but very positive and rewarding work, on the 2029 World University Games is underway. And very good things are happening all around that should make the Games even better than when we presented our bid to the International University Sports Federation (FISU), international governing body for the Games, in November 2022 and January 2023. Read on to learn more about some of those exciting new developments.

Capital Improvements in the Capital City

In our December edition, we featured the new USA Baseball Headquarters offices and indoor training facility that is part of the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, which will have its grand opening later this spring. In this edition we are going to focus on the numerous capital projects in Raleigh, our North Carolina state capital city, that will benefit the 2029 FISU World University Games.

In October of 2023, the Raleigh City Council and the Wake County Board of Commissioners made some monumental decisions to invest heavily in upgrades and expansions of the two most-visited destination facilities in Wake County: the Raleigh Convention Center and the PNC Arena. These two venues are premier event venues for the 2029 World University Games as the Raleigh Convention Center is currently slated to host three sports – Fencing, Judo, and Table Tennis – as well as the Games Main Media Center and International Broadcast Center, while the PNC Arena is planned to host Basketball, including the Finals of the Basketball competition.

For the Raleigh Convention Center, over $385 million in debt financing (supported by a total commitment of $768 million in interlocal [Wake County hotel and prepared food taxes] over a 30-year period: $25.6 million per year) was approved to double the size of the Convention Center with an additional 500,000 square feet of space. The new addition will be located on the block adjacent to the west side of the Convention Center across McDowell Street and will be connected to the current center via an overstreet bridge. The expansion will include 80,000 square feet of flexible event space and 30 meeting rooms. Since the site for the new addition is currently occupied by the 5,990-capacity Red Hat Amphitheater, the amphitheater will be moved one block south of its current site and will be joined with the new addition and current Convention Center as one, interconnected Raleigh Convention Center/Red Hat Amphitheater campus. The move of the amphitheater and the development of the new addition will get underway this year, with the amphitheater scheduled for reopening in 2027 and the Convention Center addition in 2028.

To further support and enhance the Convention Center/Red Hat Campus, the City of Raleigh in September 2023 (with a $75 million interlocal funds commitment towards parking and infrastructure) approved a new 550-room convention hotel by Omni Hotels & Resorts to be built on City-owned property adjacent to the southeast corner of the Convention Center. The new hotel will, itself, add another 55,000 square feet of meeting space to the Convention Center complex. The hotel, which will include a rooftop pool, a spa, and several food and beverage outlets, is scheduled to open in 2027.

An agreement reached in August of 2023 that locked the NHL Carolina Hurricanes into the Raleigh market until 2044 and enables the Hurricanes owner, Tom Dundon, to build a multi-use development on the 80 acres around the Hurricanes home ice venue at the PNC Arena, paved the way for $300 million in debt financing (supported by $532.5 million in interlocal funds over 25 years: $21.3 million per year) for major improvements to the arena. The project is getting underway this year with a plan to make the improvements in 3 phases during the summers of 2025, 2026, and 2027 respectively. Now that sports books and related activities have become legal in North Carolina in 2024, the Hurricanes have purchased Backyard Bistro, a restaurant across the street from the arena, in order to turn it into a sports book. Meanwhile, it has been said that the Dundon multi-use development around the arena may total as much as $1 billion.

The City of Raleigh is also spending $206 million on itself as it began work yesterday on the new 17-story East Civic Tower to be located adjacent to City Hall and designed to provide a central home for the more than 4,000 Raleigh city employees spread throughout other buildings in the Downtown Raleigh area. The 420,000 square foot addition to the Raleigh City Hall campus is being designed by Henning Larsen “to reflect Raleigh’s stature as a 21st Century Center of Innovation.”

In addition to the Convention Center expansion, PNC Arena enhancements, and the new City of Raleigh tower, transit improvements are underway in and around Raleigh including the city’s first Bus Rapid Transit line under construction down New Bern Avenue, the widening of Interstate 40 east and south of Raleigh into Johnston County, and the construction of the Raleigh Outer Loop – Interstate 540 – slated to wrap up in 2028, thanks to the State Department of Transportation recently awarding the last two contracts for completion of the roadway.

Rendering of PNC Arena enhancements (Left) and Rendering of East Civic Tower (Right).

Local University Athletic Excellence

In non-construction-related news, thanks to outstanding performances in fall sports including National Championships by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in Field Hockey, by NC State University in Women’s Cross Country, and by top 10 national finishes in a number of sports, three of our prominent local universities and 2029 World University Games Host Institutions – UNC Chapel Hill, NC State, and Duke University – finished among the top schools in the country in the fall sports rankings of the Learfield Directors Cup, representing overall excellence in collegiate sports. UNC Chapel Hill currently tops the rankings at #1, with NC State at #19, and Duke at #28.

Support the Games

Be a vital part of championing the world’s premier event for student-athletes! Bringing the 2029 World University Games to our state promises unparalleled economic advantages for our communities. Seize the chance to spotlight North Carolina on the global stage! Click below to explore the myriad of ways you can contribute and support the Games.

Don’t Forget to Shop Local and Support the WUG

Our online store features 2029 FISU World University Games t’s, polos, hoodies, tanks, caps, and more. Items come in a wide variety of colors, and the store has proven to be quite a popular online shopping destination. Don’t miss your opportunity to show your support of the 2029 FISU World University Games by snagging some excellent quality, name-brand clothing and caps!