The Wolfpacker

November 2019

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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72 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY TIM PEELER P NC Arena, the joint Raleigh- Wake County-NC State-Gale Force Holdings venture that be- gan as a simple replacement for Reynolds Coliseum, turns 20 this year, creeping into adulthood like the college students it mostly serves. Sure, the $158 million facility — made possible by the tireless work of Raleigh real estate developer Steve Stroud, Wolfpack Club executive secretary Charlie Bryant and countless others — had a rocky birth, with almost a 15-year gestation and the infamous "$26 million oops" before ground was bro- ken on July 22, 1997. But the baby that resulted from the unique marriage between the city of Raleigh, Wake County, the state of North Carolina, NC State and Carolina Hurricanes-owner Gale Force Holdings looks good as a grown up. While the massive 19,722-seat arena on the western side of Raleigh may not be able to buy a beer just yet, it can certainly serve them, thanks to the same law that made beer sales at Carter-Finley Stadium such a popular part of football season. The 2019-20 season will be the first time fans at Wolfpack basketball games can pur- chase alcohol during game, a feature that has been available since opening day for con- certs, professional contests, other events and patrons in the arena's 60-some luxury suites. "There is a certain maturity that comes with age," said Jeff Merritt, executive direc- tor of the Centennial Authority, the arena's landlord and owner. "And I think PNC has reached that maturity through the years. "But there is some updating we need to do." The building that had no thoughts of hockey in its earliest design stages, proudly hosts a Stanley Cup champion, the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, who hosted the 2002 Stanley Cup finals, then won the 2006 Cup to bring North Carolina its first major pro- fessional team title. After last year's playoff appearance, the club's first in 10 years, the Hurricanes are again one of the NHL's hottest franchises, a grand benefit to both NC State and the Centennial Authority. When the Hurricanes decided to move to North Carolina, they made significant changes to the building's design, more than doubling the price. Both costs and tempers went up again when the building's architects discov- ered a math mistake that added $26 million to the final price tag, an "oopsy" that some have never forgotten about. But the Hurricanes also volunteered to pay for the building's op- erational expenses, taking on whatever losses or profits were generated by hosting some 1.5 million people each year for events as diverse as basketball, hockey, Bruce Springsteen and the Jeopardy Collegiate Championship. The building was born into bickering. NC State was not happy that it not only had to pay rent to host home basketball games at the arena, but it only got two other dates to host winter and spring commencement ceremonies. Tempers also flared when the permanent seats that were installed were a deep scarlet instead of red and all sides had to agree on who actually got the naming rights, a benefit donor Wendell Murphy had secured with a gift to the Wolfpack Club. And there were constant discussions over available dates, especially in October when football season was in full swing, hockey season was just beginning and nearly 1 mil- lion people poured into the same area for the North Carolina State Fair. But much of the adolescent acrimony is in the past. 20 YEARS STRONG Though Its Name Has Changed, PNC Arena Just Celebrated A Milestone Birthday BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2019-20 Ground for PNC Arena was broken on July 22, 1997, and it officially opened in Oct. 29, 1999, with a Carolina Hurricanes versus New Jersey Devils hockey game. PHOTO COURTESY OF CENTENNIAL AUTHORITY

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