- Joseph Oakes
PNC Arena – North Carolina State Wolfpack
Photos by Joseph Oakes and Various, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
PNC Arena 1400 Edwards Mill Rd Raleigh, NC 27607
North Carolina State Wolfpack website
Year Opened: 1999
“Pack”ing the House
NC State basketball began playing at PNC Arena when it opened in 1999, replacing the historic Reynolds Coliseum on campus. The facility has gone by three names since it opened: the Entertainment and Sports Arena, the RBC Center, and now the PNC Arena. The arena is located about 2 miles from NC State’s main campus, and sits next door to Carter-Finley Stadium, home of the NC State football team. PNC Arena boasts 19,700 red seats, and is also the home to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. Even though the venue is approaching 25 years old, it is still a modern arena for ACC basketball.
Food & Beverage 3
PNC Arena offers a wide selection of food and beverage choices; however, the prices are quite high. There is no shortage of concession choices as you make your way through the concourses. The permanent stands offer your generic stadium food: grilled brisket sandwich with fries ($15.50), hot dogs with fries ($12.50), chicken tenders with fries ($15.50), nachos & cheese ($7), peanuts ($6.50), soft pretzel ($6.50), and popcorn ($8.00). Bottled Pepsi products are sold at these stands for $6, and bottled water is $5.50. There is also a good selection of bottled and draft beer ranging from $9-$15. Also, throughout the arena, you can find Chick-Fil-A and Cinnabon stands, as well as various ice cream choices. If you are a fan of BBQ, your best bet is to check out one of the several North Carolina BBQ stands scattered throughout the arena. These stands offer two favorites of mine: a BBQ sandwich and BBQ nachos. Pair these with a sweet tea or a Cheerwine, and you are in business. While there is a great selection of concession choices, the extremely high prices knock the ranking down a bit and therefore, we recommend eating before you go to the game.
The atmosphere at NC State basketball games is special, especially if you are attending a weekend ACC game. The first thing you notice when entering the seating bowl is the giant Tuffy wolf at center court. Nearly every fan in attendance wear red NC State apparel and cheer their hearts out. The seating at PNC Arena is separated into three different levels: a lower level, and middle club level, and an upper level. Both the lower level and middle club levels offer great views of the court and excellent sightlines. The upper level offers a nice view of the arena; however, since the arena is designed for hockey, the seats in the corners are a bit far from the action. If you are going to sit in the upper level, I would advise sitting courtside. The suites are located at the top of the lower and club levels.
Students literally surround the court at PNC Arena, in a pit-like area along both sidelines and end zones. The pep band and cheerleaders also do their part in keeping the crowd fired up. One neat cheer is when one side of the arena yells WOLF, and the other side responds with PACK. NC State also has two mascots: Mr. and Mrs. Wuf.
A large four-sided scoreboard hangs above center court and provides video replays along with the score, fouls, time-outs, and out-of-town scores. There are also ribbon boards on the overhangs of both the club and upper levels.
PNC Arena was built adjacent to Carter-Finley Stadium in West Raleigh near the NC State Fairgrounds. While there is plenty of parking and great tailgating, there is little to do within walking distance before or after the game. The only restaurant within walking distance is the Backyard Bistro, located across the street. This is a great place to hang out and get food and drinks before a game. Likewise, the only hotel in walking distance is the Arena Suites which is behind the Backyard Bistro.
Since you will most likely be driving to the arena, be sure to check out Amedeos Italian Restaurant near campus which is full of NC State memorabilia. Area activities to consider are the NC Museum of Art and Park, which is about 1 mile from the arena, and the NC state capitol and museums in downtown Raleigh.
NC State has some of the most passionate basketball fans in the country. While the program may not be the national championship contender that it was in the 70s and 80s, the fan support is top-notch. Wolfpack fans are knowledgeable and supportive of the team but are also tough on opposing teams and officials. While the large arena does push the fans away from the action somewhat, the student section that surrounds the court is always loud and vocal.
NC State does not sell out every game in the spacious PNC Arena and can seem too big for non-conference over the holidays. However, expect 15-16K for weekend ACC games and a sellout whenever Duke and UNC come to town.
PNC Arena is easily accessible by car as it sits near the intersection of I-40 and I-440 in West Raleigh. If you are flying into the area, the Raleigh-Durham airport is only 10 miles away and provides all the major airlines. Parking is plentiful but is $20 if you do not have a parking pass. Across the street at the fairgrounds, parking normally is free. When we attended in 2023, there were many signs up saying “no event parking”. However, after the game, we noticed that there were several cars parked there for the game
The security staff entering PNC Arena does seem a little “strict” at times, so allow yourself some extra time when entering the arena. Once inside, the arena is easily navigable with three concourses serving the three levels. The arena is well-signed so you can easily find your section.
Return on Investment 2
Attending an NC State basketball game will be a little tough on your wallet, especially if it is an ACC game. A few single-game lower-level tickets are normally available for ACC games for $45. Upper-level tickets range from $15-$30. Add in $20 parking and concession and you are looking at $60 per person minimum. If you are looking to save some money, purchase tickets through the secondary market for a non-conference game. This will save you quite a bit!
The NC State pep band is great and keeps the crowd fired up throughout the game, and fans sing to the fight song.
Two mascots: Mr. and Mrs. Wuf make their way through the crowd entertaining fans.
Chick-Fila has a promotion that if an opposing player misses two consecutive free throws in the final 8 minutes, everyone goes home with a free chicken sandwich through the app. This causes the crowd to get extra rowdy in the final minutes when an opposing player is shooting free throws.
Basketball is king on Tobacco Road. While PNC Arena is what immediately comes to mind when thinking of great ACC venues, it is still a fun and exciting place to catch a game.