This building was conceived as a fieldhouse and new home for the NC State Wolfpack
basketball program (The Carolina Cobras of Arena Football also play here). But once it
became apparent that this city was going to be home to an NHL team, plans were changed
and this facility was upgraded to bring it to league standards. Even though the building is
two years old, it remains a work in progress.
Raleigh Arena is located about 7 miles west of the city and in proximity to Research Triangle
Park, a mammoth area housing some leading pharmaceutical and technical research firms.
There is easy access to the facility from the interstate, but this building stands alone and is
nowhere near any neighborhoods or adjoining buildings (kind of reminded us of the area
surrounding the Corel Centre in Ottawa). Parking is abundant and the building is well lit and
landscaped. There are several entrances to the building, and the "main" one consisted of a
ticket window area and small lobby.
Once you walk into the building, you are immediately impressed at how bright everything is
- very white, lots of lighting and red and black accents add to the decor (the Hurricanes and
Wolfpack colors are red/white/black). This is a multiple concourse facility. Escalators take
you to the upper levels, and there are sweeping views of the outside as you ride upstairs.
One unique feature on the first level was a "concourse in a concourse". The sideline seats
in the 100s are deemed premium seats and from the main concourse you have to go
through a set of doors (and have your ticket checked) to a separate private area with its
own concessions and a view of the playing surface. This was designed initially for the
Wolfpack and before the idea of a "club level" was conceived.
The bowl and premium seating
Again, very bright and cheery - all seats are in team colors - wine red. In one end zone of
the club level is a "super premium" seating area... each seat has its own video screen with
video, internet and email access. 61 suites ring the sidelines in the club level and the
corners and end zones of the 100 level. At one end of the club level concourse is a
banquet hall and dance floor which also serves up a pre game buffet for club ticket holders
only. This area looked rather ordinary and lacked the ambience of our 100 level Harbour
Club in Buffalo. Back to the bowl - An 8 sided scoreboard with outstanding video boards
hangs above center ice. Ad panels along the balconies are backlit and stationary. The
Hurricanes management is still looking to upgrade the building's facilities - in the 100 end
zone they are erecting a sports bar with a view of the playing surface. AND --- Management
is talking with Daktronics to look into installing a surround LED display board in the Raleigh
Arena, and they will be checking out the set up at the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul
sometime in the near future. Yet another NHL facility stepping into the 21st Century!!!
The food was nothing special, but we have to tip our hat to the name of the Hurricane's
team merchandise store. It is called "The Eye". Coolest name in the NHL, eh?
An entire crop of banners saluting every accomplishment imaginable for the NC State
Wolfpack, which really isn't so unusual for college teams to do. The Hurricanes have but
one division title banner hanging. This franchise's signature moments happened in the
WHA when they were called the Hartford Whalers. Presumably, those banners still hang in
the Mall at Hartford.... and that is where they will stay.
Things that caught our eye -
Each usher is furnished with a "Stop" sign, which asks people to wait till a break in play
before returning to their seats. The ushers seem to like it - beats having to verbally stop
fans all night long.
As a tribute to the nationalities of each of the Hurricanes players, flags of their respective
countries hang in the rafters next to the American and Canadian flags. Nice touch!
Is this a college basketball fieldhouse? Or is it an NHL arena? There seems to be a subtle
tug of war for the soul of this building. To their credit, the Hurricanes are attacking their
daunting challenge on two fronts - first of all, committing significant capital spending to
improving this arena and adding amenities which are available in their peer facilities. The
Hurricanes management is devoting a lot of effort to researching what works and what
looks good in other NHL venues. Second, the team is developing an audience literally from
the ground up, working in a market with little hockey tradition and an area where NCAA
basketball is the public's passion. From our observations they have already made
We wish to thank KEN LEHNER, Carolina Hurricanes Vice President of Marketing
Communications, for his hospitality. Ken fixed us up with some terrific seats for the game,
and took time from his busy schedule to take us around the facility. Ken formerly worked
for Bison Baseball and Rich Products and asked that we say "hi" for him to his old friends
and associates in Buffalo.
Food and team store 6.5
Scoreboard and electronics 5
Fan support 2
Location and neighborhood 3.5
Banners and history 6
In game entertainment 6
Concourses/fan comfort 8
Bonus: USRT red carpet treatment 4, Flags of the nations 1
Sports Arena and
May 29, 2006
Buffalo Sabres at