There’s a battle brewing in Raliegh, N.C., over the use of PNC Arena by the Carolina Hurricanes and North Carolina State, and some of the accusations are getting pretty ugly. Selfish university officials leaving the Hurricanes open to threats of NHL fines! Team officials going behind the school’s back to press the ACC for schedule changes!
The issue here is that even though the Hurricanes’ parent company manages the arena, the team agreed to a lease upon moving from Hartford that gave it third priority over arena dates behind N.C. State basketball and football (the football team uses the parking lots for its games at neighboring Carter-Finley Stadium). For some reason, this is suddenly causing problems, with the Hurricanes management charging that N.C. State is holding an excessive number of dates for its own usage (129 out of 214 dates, including 26 out of 30 days in November, according to Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford), leaving the team open to league fines of $100,000 if they have to make a late schedule adjustment. N.C. State counters that it’s only holding 65 dates open, and that it can’t do better than that since the ACC’s conference schedule isn’t released until late summer. And N.C. State chancellor Randy Woodson made his own charges, saying that he only recently discovered that the Hurricanes had been directly lobbying the ACC to shift his school’s schedule in order to leave open dates for NHL games.
Why this is suddenly coming up now, 14 years after the Hurricanes moved in, is a bit of a mystery. It’s also not clear what the Hurricanes expect to get out of this, since they agreed to be second fiddle when they signed the lease in the first place (paying only $60 million out of the arena’s $158 million construction cost). Their lease runs through 2024, so it’s a bit early to be making noise about wanting revisions or to get out of it … though on second thought, maybe not. And while this guy is no longer mayor, clearly it’s never too early to start talking about replacing a slightly-used arena.