When it comes to local sports in all of North Carolina, college basketball is probably king. March Madness turns to real life madness if you try to change the channel to something else at home or at the sports bar during a critical game of one of the home teams! Even though college basketball rules during the fall and winter months, Raleigh offers much more year-round in its diverse sports scene as far as fun and all-around entertainment go.
Below is a quick rundown of some of the unique local sports entertainment options and favorite teams here in Raleigh which include college sports and professional sports:
North Carolina Football Club (NCFC)
The NCFC or North Carolina FC (formerly known as the Carolina Railhawks) is a professional soccer team that recently announced their transition from the NASL to the USL. The team currently plays at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. Earlier this year, the team announced exciting plans for a Major League Soccer franchise expansion which would feature a brand new stadium, currently planned to be located in the heart of Downtown Raleigh.
In December of 2016, team owner Steve Malik and President and General Manager Curt Johnson ushered in a New State of Soccer by announcing several initiatives bolstered by a bold new brand with a modern vision for soccer in the Triangle and North Carolina. The initiatives center around bringing the highest level of men’s and women’s professional soccer in North America to the Triangle.
NC State College Sports: Go Wolfpack!
In Raleigh, we bleed red. We are always rooting for the NCSU home team! NC State University is located in the heart of Raleigh and the community supports all their teams unconditionally. No matter which sporting event you attend, you can be sure to hear the cheer: WOLF-PACK!
NC State Basketball
The NC State Men’s Basketball team is an NCAA Division 1 team that plays its home games at the PNC Arena. The Women’s Wolfpack team plays its home games at the Reynolds Coliseum. Can’t get a ticket? Player’s Retreat is a popular spot to catch the game on TV.
Since its inception in 1910, the NC State basketball program has been rich in tradition. The Wolfpack has won two national championships, gone to three Final Fours, won 10 Atlantic Coast Conference championships, won seven Dixie Classic championships and seven Southern Conference championships over the years.
NC State’s tradition of excellence dates all the way back to the end of World War I. Coach Harry Hartsell’s 1918 Techs were the first dominant team at NC State, compiling a 12-2 record after winning nine of their first 10 games. Since then, NC State has had a tradition of exceptional teams led by exceptional coaches, a tradition that continues to this day.
NC State Football
The NC State Wolfpack football team plays in the ACC Coastal Division conference. Catch the games at Carter Finley Stadium right next to the PNC Arena or watch it with fellow fans at the Downtown Carolina Ale House or East Village Grill.
Wolfpack football celebrates its 125th birthday in 2017, just a year after celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first game in Carter-Finley Stadium. NC State (then known as The North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts), played its first football game against a team from the Raleigh Male Academy on March 12, 1892, in what is now Pullen Park in front of 200 spectators.
A&M’s team colors were pink and blue. The coaches were professors who had to be convinced annually to coach the students about a game they barely knew themselves. The length of the first season was a single game, which A&M won 12-6.
From those humble beginnings, NC State University has been competing at the highest level of college athletics for more than a century, as a charter member of both the Southern Conference and, later, the ACC.
NC State Hockey
What…? Really?! Yes, NC State has a hockey club, and the team is so much fun to watch if you are into hockey! The IcePack plays most of its home games at Raleigh IcePlex, but occasionally you can even catch them at the PNC Arena. Check the schedule for details.
The NC State ice hockey team has been around since the 1970s. They are part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division II and currently play in the Atlantic Coast Collegiate Hockey League (ACCHL). The schedule also includes NC State’s major rivals like UNC and Duke. The season is around 25 games long not including league playoffs, regionals, and nationals.
Raleigh is the proud home of the Carolina Hurricanes, an NHL team that came to North Carolina in 1997. The team plays its home games at the PNC Arena and won the prestigious Stanley Cup in 2006! It’s best to experience a game in-person, but you can also catch the games on TV at Lucky B’s Bar, a bar owned by Bates Battaglia – a former Carolina Hurricanes player. Lucky B’s or Lucky 13’s is “the classiest dive bar in Raleigh” with a prime location in Glenwood South.
When the Hurricanes relocated to North Carolina 20 years ago, they played their first two seasons in Greensboro. The team opened its current home, PNC Arena (formerly RBC Center), in Raleigh in the fall of 1999.
In the years since the 18,680-seat PNC Arena opened, the Canes have played host to the Stanley Cup Finals twice, in 2002 and 2006, hosted the National Hockey League Entry Draft in 2004 as well as the 2011 NHL All-Star game, drawing international attention to Raleigh. During the 2005-2006 season, the Hurricanes defeated the Edmonton Oilers in an exciting Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to bring the state of North Carolina its first major professional sports championship.
Raleigh is a super sporty and active city
No matter which sporting event you plan on attending in the Raleigh area, you will always find die-hard sports fans setting up in the parking lot hours beforehand for tailgate parties.
Tailgating is a huge part of the sports culture in Raleigh and many other cities in the south. Going to a sporting event is always a good time but it’s even more fun when it’s preceded by a few cold beers and fresh burgers hot off the grill. Go Pack! Go Canes! Go NCFC! Woooo!!!
This post was created in collaboration with 919 Blog contributor Amy Howard for exclusive digital publication on 919Blog.com