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Take warning—the Stadium Series game is about more than hockey. It’s big business.
Raleigh is the stage. And all the world is watching. Literally. The Stadium Series game is going to be televised prime time on a Saturday night on ABC. “There are going to be a lot of eyeballs around the nation—and around the world—watching,” says Scott Dupree, chair of the Local Organizing Committee assembled to support the Canes and NHL and enhance the fan experience, “and they’ll all be looking at Raleigh, Carter-Finley Stadium, the Hurricanes, NC State, the Hurricanes brand—and it is going to be high visibility and media exposure for the city, the team, the stadium and the university.” That’s precisely the kind of occasion that enhances awareness of our city, explains Dupree, and our ability to recruit more major events.
Beyond branding, this is big business. Yes, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime fan experience. Yes, it’s a weeklong celebration and highly curated cast of events (see p. 50, plus our comprehensive day-by-day pullout event guide). But it’s also huge for Raleigh from an economic standpoint. “I’ve been doing this for 20-plus years,” says Dupree, who serves as the longtime executive director of Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, “and I don’t remember any event ever generating this much conversation and excitement and anticipation.”
Arguably the hype has been building from the day Tom Dundon became majority owner of the team in January 2018 and stated his priority to get an outdoor game, says Canes Chief Marketing Officer Mike Forman. And he did just that. But this isn’t just any outdoor game. It’s only the 13th Stadium Series game ever. It’s like finding the golden ticket—except you didn’t just stumble on a random lucky candy bar. You earned it—and earn it our Bunch of Jerks sure did.
News first broke of the major grab in early 2020, slated for a February 2021 puck drop. Fast-forward through the pandemic and postponement. … Now, obviously the ever-elusive Stadium Series game is exciting for sports fans in general and Canes fans in particular—and something they’ve been talking about for years, says Dupree.
“But in addition to the excitement component and the fun of it for sports and Hurricanes fans,” he adds, “it’s also big business for this market. I can say for certain it’ll be the type of economic impact event that will generate millions of dollars for our community in terms of visitor spending in hotels, restaurants and retail.” Throngs of people from far and wide will come into town for this game—and not just Washington Capitals fans, notes Dupree, but sports fans from around the region and hockey fans who just want to see an outdoor game. And that’s big money.
For the trifecta, then there’s timing. They say what is for you will not pass you. And this moment is for the Canes. The stars, they have aligned. Sure, it’s five-plus years in the making, and people have been on wait for three of those—but, now, it’s the Canes’ 25th Anniversary Season in NC; games are sold out on the regular; and we have the second- best record in hockey.* “Everything is kind of peaking right now,” says Forman.
Rewind to a time when the franchise struggled to sell out 18,000+ seats. Then accelerate through a time when “the team got really good; our market came to life; and you saw the energy in the building and the community,” says Forman. Then revel in this moment when the Canes sold out Carter-Finley Stadium in record time. “The NHL is absolutely thrilled to be coming here now,” he says. “They’re amazed with how quickly we sold tickets. They’re amazed at the buzz in the community and the support we’re getting. … But one thing our GM/President Don Waddell constantly reminds us—it’s not an exhibition game. We know everyone’s going to have a great week—but hopefully we win the game.”
Raleigh is no doubt breathing rare air right now. Win or lose on the ice (but, um, please win), the Canes—and Raleigh—have already won big. It’s our moment. And it was worth the wait.
By The Numbers
- Feb. 18: Date of Stadium Series game at Carter-Finley Stadium
- 3: Hours it took the Canes to sell out the original allotment of 18,660 tickets from the NHL—the fastest ever.
- 30,000+: Amount of tickets the Canes ultimately sold—the highest percentage of stadium capacity sold by the home team for any outdoor game.
- 1,000: # of fans on the field in a student section, which is unique to this game. The NHL has never had spectators on the field for an outdoor game.
- 1st: Carter-Finley is the first college football facility in the South to host an NHL outdoor game.
- 2nd: Raleigh is only the second city in the South to host the Stadium Series (first was Nashville last year).
- 6th: Carter-Finley is the sixth college football facility to host one of the NHL’s 37 regular-season outdoor games (including Winter Classics, etc.). Previous college football facilities include Michigan Stadium, TCF Bank Stadium (University of Minnesota), Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium and Falcon Stadium (Air Force).
- ~55,000+: Expected capacity at Carter-Finley, including permanent seats, suites and fans on field
- 13th: NHL Stadium Series game ever played
- 37: Total NHL regular-season outdoor games all time
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