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Carter-Finley Stadium

Raleigh, NC

Home of the North Carolina State Wolfpack



Carter-Finley Stadium (map it)
4600 Trinity Rd
Raleigh, NC 27607

North Carolina State Wolfpack website

Carter-Finley Stadium website

Year Opened: 1966

Capacity: 57,583

There are no tickets available at this time.


Local Information


Wolfpack in the House

When you travel down Tobacco Road, there is no question that basketball is king. Duke, UNC, and NC State all have tremendous basketball traditions. Out of those three, NC State probably embraces football the most, as seen in their stadium. Over the last decade, the school has worked hard to make the stadium the best that it can be. In response, the fans really get behind the team and make Carter-Finley Stadium a great place to be on Saturday.


What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

One of the great things about Carter-Finley is the availability of concessions. No matter where you sit, you will probably find a concession stand around you. Even better, the stands sell most of the same items, meaning no walks around the stadium to find that one item. For those looking for more of a meal, there are three options: Chick-fil-A sandwiches, barbecue sandwiches, and pizza. Most notably, the barbecue is from a local restaurant, The Pit, which is known in the area for great barbecue (more on that later).

For those looking for more of a snack, there are soft pretzels, frozen lemonades, popcorn, and fresh NC peanuts. North Carolina is one of the country's largest peanut producers, making peanuts at NC State farm fresh.

For dessert, look no further than Howling Cow ice cream. NC State is one of the only universities with an on-campus creamery. As part of its food science program, the creamery sells its ice cream in the student center, at the state fair, and at athletic events. Like the peanuts, the ice cream is very fresh, tastes amazing, and at $2 a cup, is a good value, as well.

Atmosphere    5

Wolfpack fans are the type that come early and stay late. Several hours before kickoff, you will see the parking lot begin to fill with tents, grills, and other tailgate gear. I would definitely suggest coming early and joining the fun. If you walk around long enough, someone is bound to invite you to enjoy a tailgate with them. There is no loss of southern hospitality around these tailgates.

The time you enter the stadium will determine your gate experience. If you come early, there is usually little to no hassle at baggage check or ticket scanning. If you arrive anytime within 30 minutes of kickoff, beware. The lines become very long and you may miss kickoff, something you won't want to miss.

Like most football teams, NC State has their share of pregame traditions. "The Power Sound of the South" (the marching band) is a sight to see as they march all around each other and spell out "NC STATE" in cursive. After the alma mater, national anthem, and the fight song, the team enters through a "Wolf Den" shaped tunnel.

When you find your seat, you may be surprised to find that it is nothing more than a metal bench. This may seem like a problem, but don't worry; you won't be using it much anyway. That is because, in fact, not many people use their seats. Any play by any team worth ten yards or more will cause many fans to leap to their feet.

Normally, I will say "there is not a bad seat in the house", meaning that all the seats are generally the same and are above average. This time, it's different. The atmosphere at State is the same no matter where you sit. There are just as many die-hard fans sitting the first row as there are in the rafters. Also, sight lines are not a huge problem, either. If you are having trouble seeing things, just watch the replay on the 2,660-square foot video board.

Neighborhood    4

Usually, I am not a fan of off-campus stadiums, as they lose most of the college neighborhood with the move. Fortunately for NC State, the move has worked out to be a plus. Back when it was built, Carter-Finley's only neighbor was the North Carolina Fairgrounds. Over time, the city of Raleigh has grown towards it, and Carter-Finley is now within 15 minutes of everything Raleigh has to offer. Like any city, there is an overwhelming number of shops, hotels, and restaurants. Here are a few of my favorites.

If proximity to the stadium is a factor for you, look no further than Backyard Bistro. Located across the street from Carter-Finley, this is a great post-game hangout. Backyard Bistro is a casual sports bar, and an all-around great place to eat.

Now for the barbecue portion of this review. No NC review is complete without talking the local barbecue. In Raleigh, there are two favorites for barbecue. The first is in the middle of downtown: The Pit. In what was formally an old meat packing warehouse, The Pit is an upscale barbecue restaurant with traditional NC chopped pork that is, as the name suggests, pit-cooked. The atmosphere is what sets it apart from most barbecue restaurants.

If upscale isn't quite your taste, there is also Ole Time BBQ. Ole Time is only five minutes away from Carter-Finley and is a much more traditional barbecue place. With only a few tables and chairs, it is not the most spacious property. Even in its small size, it is a favorite for local barbecue lovers.

Fans    5

Many people not from the area will write off Tobacco Road schools as "basketball-only." If this is the case, don't let NC State fans know. The fans come early and stay late. Many of the fans, especially the student section, are the type that will be heard all game long. Not only will they cheer for their team, but you can be sure that as the visiting team enters the field, there will be a chorus of "boooo." In addition to being loud, Wolfpack fans' favorite cheer is when one side cheers "Wolf", while the other responds "Pack."

Access    4

Getting to the stadium is a piece of cake. Located just off I-40, North Carolina's main highway, it couldn't be easier to arrive at Carter-Finley Stadium. The problem arises when it comes time to park. It is tough to find parking, but space is usually available in the lots surrounding the NC Fairgrounds for around $10. Don't be mistaken, though; it will take some time to park. The lots fill up very fast, and traffic is not great around the stadium.

Return on Investment    4

While season tickets quickly sell out, fans can normally find single game tickets on the NC State website, as long as it is not a big matchup (UNC and Thursday night games are usually popular). Tickets sell for around $50, and while this isn't exactly a value, it is to be expected for a major FBS game. Inside the stadium, prices are pretty good, compared to what I've seen at other venues.

Extras    4

The north entrance is home to signs honoring the retired numbers for the team. These include Phillip Rivers, Torry Holt, and Ted Brown. The historical markings continue inside the stadium under the Vaughn towers near the west entrance. They honor notable moments in NC State football history.

Another point goes to the student section. They do a good job of staying in the game and making themselves heard.

NC State gets a point for all the renovations to this stadium to make it what it is today. Not too long ago, the stadium had two open ends. One end was a grass hill, while the other was simply the scoreboard. Now, the stadium is an entire bowl, and with several other upgrades, is a great modern facility.

Finally, I enjoy the radio crew for the Wolfpack. They do a good job of calling the game and are not always trying to talk up their own team. The color commentator is NC State football legend Johnny Evans, who is always ready to share a story from his playing days.

Final Thoughts

Most likely, Carter-Finley is not on your bucket list of college football stadiums to visit. However, you may want to consider adding it. Carter-Finley may not be like any of the famous SEC stadiums, but you can count on a unique atmosphere that only NC State and ACC football can provide.


Very good write-up. One correction - the capacity is 57,583.

by mjgdeux1 | Nov 12, 2013 03:10 AM


NC State currently has the capacity as 55,571 on their official website, so we'll stick with that number for now

by paul | Nov 12, 2013 10:53 AM

Check That

Made a call to the Athletic Department, and you're right about the capacity. Thanks for the note

by paul | Nov 12, 2013 10:59 AM

Wendell murphy and monument

I'm rather surprised at the omission of any mention of the Wendell Murphy Football center and "Wolfpack Turf" monument at the South exit of the stadium. It is the largest operations facility in the country devoted solely to football. It highlights NC State's football tradition with photos, artifacts and interactive exhibits. Open to the public, it should not be missed when visiting!

by hollandwolf | Nov 12, 2013 04:58 PM

not visitor friendly

As said in the article, finding Carter Finley is easy. Good roads and plenty of signs. Then you turn into the parking area and the first sign tells you where you can pick your towed car. (Guess they have a big problem) -
We usually take a ride around the stadium to get our bearings which was a huge mistake. The parking along the fairgrounds reminds me of something from the keystone cops movie shorts. There appeared to be no rules when driving to your spot in the tailgating area. Best thing for a visitor to do is stay well away from the lots and try to find a park along the outside of the grounds.

Walking in the tailgate area with visiting color shorts on was not that bad. Adults were super nice, even invited us over for food and to get out of the sun. The young people was a different story but nothing that you cannot experience at any other tailgating area. And I also found out why they need a sign for towed cars. -- I assume that some people have an exact slot in which to park. A car was being dragged out of a slot, I guess because that did not parking in the correct number and a man in a white SUV was not a happy camper.

The stadium, which was only about 70% full, is again not friendly to visitors. They place the visitors in the far four corners of the upper decks except for one sliver that is as thin as you can get build in a stadium. We moved down to the lower level where an area was vacant for most of the first half. Sat with some great NCSt fans and enjoyed the rest of the day until it was time to head back to the hotel. I am not sure if there is one way into the stadium but it appeared there was only one way out. Took over an hour just to get to the highway.

Perhaps I missed a visitors guide on the NCSt website but one is definitely needed. The parking fiasco made the entire experience unpleasant.

by pbt140 | Sep 29, 2014 03:35 PM

Tickets very hard to get

I have been to well over 100 college football games at more than 110 different stadiums all over the country, and I have to say this was the toughest place to get tickets. Usually you can get then on ticket reselling websites, even big names like Alabama or Nebraska, albeit at 4-5 times face value, but you can get them. For NC State it was almost impossible, I even tried going in person several times but couldn't get them from scalpers. Finally I lucked out and scored one at an online auction site.

by Aaron S. Terry | Nov 04, 2015 11:40 AM

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Crowd Reviews

The Pack Attack

Total Score: 4.00

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 3

They are simply known as the Pack and have been a staple of ACC football since they moved from the southern conference back in 1953. The Wolfpack may not be an elite college football team to most college football fans, but since joining the ACC in 1953 they have won 7 ACC championships and have been in 25 bowl games.

Since 1966 the Wolfpack have called the 57,583 capacity Carter-Finley Stadium home, routinely "packing" the house as they have now sold out of season tickets for nine straight years. Carter-Finley Stadium may not have the reputation of fellow stadiums like the Doak or Death Valley, but State fans fill the seats and can make Carter-Finley Stadium a pretty loud atmosphere for visiting teams.

great stadium

Total Score: 4.86

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

nc state university has some of the best athletic facilities and stadium in the country

Love Raleigh

Total Score: 4.29

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

Love Raleigh, and this stadium puts you very close to be able to enjoy downtown Raleigh. Plenty of parking, and located right next to the home of NC State basketball/Carolina Hurricanes

Not Bad For North Carolina

Total Score: 3.71

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 4

Overall not bad, but the fans are obnoxious. Many get drunk while tailgating and show it while in the stadium. The Student Section is really good though, and they get the rest of the crowd going. Excellent venue, by far one of the best in the ACC if not the best.


Total Score: 4.57

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 4

Home of the best football and football atmosphere in NC. The Wolfpack faithful know how to have a good time and they enjoy their teams. On average games I'd rate the atmosphere at a 7.8 and on big games it can really be electric and as loud as any stadium in the country....a true 10.

Tobacco Road's best football fanbase

Total Score: 4.43

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

Having attended a game at all three ACC schools on Tobacco Road I can say that NC State is the best atmosphere for a game. I saw Duke and UNC play ACC rivals and Nc State played Troy and it was close to capacity crowd and fans were in it it all game. I paid $40 dollars for tickets on the thirty yard line and parking with food and a drink. Great deal and well worth the six hour trip.

Loyal fan base

Total Score: 4.14

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

Parking is a little tricky b/c you have to park far away in these random lots around the neighborhood (unless you have a pass) but the atmosphere is great, and the fans are really loyal. Plus there is a lot to do in the area.

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Local Food & Drink

The Roast Grill  (map it!)

7 S West St

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(919) 832-8292


Beasley's Chicken & Honey  (map it!)

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Clyde Cooper's BBQ  (map it!)

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Backyard Bistro  (map it!)

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The Pit Authentic Barbecue  (map it!)

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Ole Time Barbecue  (map it!)

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Local Entertainment

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North Carolina Museum of Art  (map it!)

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