Construction on the $158 million PNC Arena began with a groundbreaking ceremony on July 22, 1997 and the arena doors opened for business in October 1999, representing the culmination of the collaborative efforts of a unique partnership known as the Centennial Authority. The Centennial Authority owns the PNC Arena and the surrounding 80 acres, while the facility itself is operated by the Carolina Hurricanes/Gale Force Sports & Entertainment. Funds for the arena are provided by the State of North Carolina, the City of Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina State University and the Carolina Hurricanes.
The roots of the PNC Arena can be traced to the early 1980’s when local officials and NC State University began thinking of a replacement to venerable Reynolds Coliseum. Reynolds Coliseum along with Dorton Arena had together served the area for sports and entertainment for decades, but each had grown outdated. In 1988, the first public funds were provided when the North Carolina General Assembly appropriated $1.5 million that was matched by NC State University to plan an arena next to Carter-Finley Stadium in West Raleigh. Milestone events then followed.
1992 – The General Assembly funded $2 million for site work. The Wolfpack Club raised $22 million. Wake County and the City of Raleigh committed $22 million from hotel, prepared food and beverage taxes.
October 1995 – The Centennial Authority asked architects to redesign the building for multi-purpose uses including the addition of luxury suites.
May 1997 – Team owner Peter Karmanos announced the NHL’s Hartford Whalers would relocate to Raleigh as the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes became the first major professional sports franchise to locate in the Triangle, complimenting NFL and NBA teams located in Charlotte.
November 1997 – Hurricanes and Authority agreed to lease and development terms based on redesign.
November 19, 1999 – Inaugural NC State men’s basketball game in the ESA sees the Wolfpack defeat the University of Georgia 67-63.
September 2002 – The Entertainment & Sports Arena became the RBC Center following purchase of naming rights by RBC Centura Banks, Inc.
June 2006 – The Carolina Hurricanes were Stanley Cup Champions, becoming the first professional sports franchise in North Carolina to win its respective league trophy. Game seven sees fans standing throughout the contest and noise levels recorded were the loudest ever for an indoor sporting event.
October 2009 – The arena celebrated its 10th anniversary. The arena has hosted more than 1,500 events attracting some 15 million guests in its first decade of operation.
Summer 2011 – New Wolfpack and Hurricane-red seats were installed in the Concourse and Club levels along with a new basketball court – the first time since the arena’s opening that either had occurred.
March 2012 – Following acquisition of RBC Bank by PNC Financial Services, the facility was inaugurated as the PNC Arena.
Why the Centennial Authority?
Around the time momentum for an arena began to grow, North Carolina State University was approaching its 100th birthday. To commemorate the occasion and demonstrate support for a new home for NCSU basketball, the authority necessary to manage a public-private asset was designated as the Centennial Authority by the NC General Assembly.
Coach V: Arena Designer
The late Jim Valvano actually had a hand in designing some of the seating areas in the arena. His vision was to create seating so NCSU students could ring the basketball court and recreate the legendary atmosphere of Reynolds Coliseum. Coach Valvano’s design created student seating located slightly below the lower bowl/concourse seats along the sidelines and endzone seats that rise to various levels at each end.