Itinerant Fan

PNC Arena

In the Research Triangle region of North Carolina, where Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill are located, college hoops is understandably king. Of course it is, right? Duke and North Carolina are constantly battling for NCAA supremacy, while NC State wreaks occasional havoc in the ACC as well.

The Wolfpack’s arena is home to professional hockey as well, opening its doors to the former Hartford Whalers in the late 1990s. While the building, now known as PNC Arena, was being constructed, the newly christened Carolina Hurricanes endured an inglorious two-year stint down the road in Greensboro, but the wait turned out to be worth it. During a stretch in the 2000s when the Canes consistently made the Stanley Cup playoffs, reaching the finals twice and winning the championship in 2006, the arena was constantly full and earned a reputation as one of the loudest in the NHL.

The Canes have more recently fallen on hard times, and the Wolfpack continues to look up at the Blue Devils and Tar Heels on the college hoops hierarchy, but that doesn’t make PNC Arena any less worthy of a visit. For puckheads, the curiosity of watching hockey in the Carolinas alone is worth taking a look.

  •   The Approach

    PNC Arena is located in a well-known area of the Triangle — it’s in Raleigh proper but on the west side of town, with Raleigh-Durham International Airport down the road and both Chapel Hill and Durham a few miles farther to the west. Carter-Finley Stadium, where NC State’s football team plays, is right next door (NC State’s main campus is about four miles to the southeast). The North Carolina state fairgrounds are nearby as well.

    Wherever you’re coming from, you’ll need to find Interstate 40, which runs by the arena. Exit at either Edwards Mill Road or Blue Ridge Road, then follow signs to one of the handful of access points that surround the venue. (For more detailed driving directions, click here.)

    The arena is surrounded by a large parking lot that, as of 2016, cost $10 to enter for Wolfpack games and $15 for Hurricanes games. Some fans avoid these fees by parking in a nearby lot that services the fairgrounds for free, then walking about a half-mile to the arena.

    For hockey fans who don’t have a car, there is an alternative: The Caniac Coach, which operates two separate routes to the arena from a number of restaurants around Raleigh. The service is free but patrons are encouraged to spend time at one of the partner restaurants.

  •   The Build-Up

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    There’s a pretty random mishmash of things nearby — not only the fairgrounds, but also an office park, a few fast-food restaurants and a high school. So on game nights the area is not usually teeming with activity, and for a majority of fans the routine is to get there, go in to watch the game, then leave.

    Hurricanes fans are known to tailgate before games — one of the few arenas around the NHL where you’ll see such a scene. How many tailgaters sometimes depends on the day of the week and how well the team is doing, but it’s still an unusual thing to see at a hockey game and something worth checking out.

    Another option if you really want to eat or drink before going in: Use the Caniac Coach (mentioned above) and patronize one of the restaurants mentioned. If you’re driving from downtown Raleigh, the arena is about 7-8 miles away via I-40.

  •   The Ambiance

    PNC Arena is large capacity-wise — it’s one of the largest in college basketball — so don’t be surprised if it feels big. But even though the Hurricanes didn’t commit to moving into the arena until it was already in the planning phase, sightlines are good for hockey (that is, it doesn’t feel like a hockey rink was crammed into a basketball venue, as can sometimes be the case).


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    The Wolfpack have a long and rich history in college hoops, with two national titles (1974 and 1983), and the Hurricanes have accumulated quite a history as well with their 2006 title, 2002 finals appearance and several division crowns. So there are quite a few banners hanging from the rafters for both teams, and they all blend together. Fun fact: The Canes chose their red-and-black color scheme upon moving from Hartford to match NC State’s, and you won’t find many mentions of the franchise’s Hartford history in the arena.

    PNC Arena’s concessions options aren’t all that adventurous as arena food goes. You can find North Carolina barbecue (it would’ve been sacrilegious if the Carolina pulled pork sandwich wasn’t represented, to be honest), as well as gourmet burgers, Mexican food and sweets such as cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies.

    If you’ve got a ticket in the lower or club levels, check out the Foothills Pubdeck, a bar that overlooks the seating bowl, between sections 110 and 114. Several local breweries are represented in the beer selection at the arena as well.

The Particulars

Home Teams
Carolina Hurricanes
NC State Wolfpack

Address
1400 Edwards Mill Road
Raleigh, NC 27607

Year Opened
1999

Capacity
18,680

Upcoming Events
All times local
Ed Sheeran with James Blunt
Saturday, September 2, 2017
7:30 pm
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Preseason: Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
7:00 pm
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Preseason: Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes
Friday, September 29, 2017
7:30 pm
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Minnesota Wild at Carolina Hurricanes
Saturday, October 7, 2017
7:00 pm
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Columbus Blue Jackets at Carolina Hurricanes
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
7:00 pm
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