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. But PNC Arena, the Wolfpack’s home, has shown it can be a terrific home for hockey too, as the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes have demonstrated.

The arena, originally known as the Raleigh Entertainment & Sports Arena, opened its doors to the former Hartford Whalers in the late 1990s. While the building 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 had recently fallen on hard times, going a full decade without making the playoffs, before a young, fun-loving team that became known for its “Storm Surges” advanced all the way to the conference finals in 2019. For puckheads, the curiosity of watching hockey in the Carolinas alone is worth taking a look.

The approach: Getting to PNC Arena

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.

Center map
Get Directions

The build-up: Things to do around PNC Arena

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: Watching a game at PNC Arena

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).

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.

Affiliate Disclosure
Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you make a purchase. These recommendations are only for companies that we’ve used and have proven to enhance our sports travel experiences. To find out more about our affiliate partnerships, please read our Affiliate Disclaimer.

Subscribe for our best sports travel tips and guides!

More stadium guides | View all

Share this post:

    The Particulars

    Home Teams
    Carolina Hurricanes
    NC State Wolfpack

    1400 Edwards Mill Road
    Raleigh, NC 27607

    Year Opened


    Upcoming Events
    All times local
    Roger Waters
    Tuesday, August 11, 2020
    3:30 am
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    Luke Combs with Ashley McBryde
    Friday, September 18, 2020
    7:00 pm
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    Luke Combs with Ashley McBryde
    Saturday, September 19, 2020
    7:00 pm
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    Sommore with Festival of Laughs and Gary Owen and Lavell Crawford and DC Young Fly
    Friday, October 2, 2020
    8:00 pm
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    Nick Cannon with Wild 'N Out Live
    Friday, March 12, 2021
    3:30 am
    Get tickets at SeatGeek »

    View Seating Chart »