Raleigh still buzzing over stretch of sports wins anchored by Stadium Series

Michael Perchick Image
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Raleigh still buzzing over big weekend for sports -- and business
"Events like Stadium Series just bring more attention to Raleigh. People are wanting to come to Raleigh anyway, so maybe this is the tipping point for them to come to Raleigh."

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Following a raucous Saturday which saw the Carolina Hurricanes knock off the Washington Capitals 4-1 in Raleigh's first-ever Stadium Series game, crowds continued to pour into Carter-Finley Stadium on Monday for the Canes alumni-game and a match-up between UNC and NC State.

"(I) had a great time, glad that Raleigh represented well for the Stadium Series," said Taylor Jackson.

"I grew up in the north, in the Chicago area. And they love their fanbase there. Here -- I only see it growing. So kudos to what the Carolina Hurricanes are doing, and also NC State and UNC," added Joe Bresingham.

For Bresingham, Monday night's game was personal, as his son Drew is a forward for the Icepack, N.C. State's club hockey team.

"This atmosphere is electric. It's awesome," Bresingham said after the first period.

The icepack skated to a 7-3 win over the rival Tar Heels, capping off a memorable few days for Ralegh's sports scene. With N.C. State's men's basketball team also knocking off the Tar Heels 77-69 on Sunday at PNC Arena -- right across the parking lot from Carter-Finley, and the Wolfpack women's team rallying to beat UNC 77-66 a few days earlier at Reynolds Coliseum, it was a stretch that won't soon be forgotten in the Capital City.

Saturday's game, which drew nearly 57,000 fans, showcased the area's growing fanbase, one that has seen one of the NHL's most successful franchises the past few seasons.

"It's definitely a hockey town now, I've only been here about seven years, but to see the amount of people out here and tailgating and everything else. It's D-2 Club Hockey tonight and they got the upper levels loaded up too. It's great for the city, great for hockey," said Drew Blyskal.

The large crowds created a buzz across the region in the weeks leading up to the game and carried over throughout the weekend.

"My two places down here -- Lucky B's and TEETS -- were packed this weekend, and it was all about the Hurricanes, it was just a great experience, whether here or in the area," said former Canes player Bates Battaglia, referring to two bars he owns in Raleigh.

"It was incredible. The weekend just in general I think, market-wide was incredible. We were sold out both Friday and Saturday night, And the bar revenues that go along with that, great weekend. We've also got a Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn was also sold-out. (As) best I can tell, it was kind of a market sell-out. Downtown Durham was crowded. We've got a hotel in RTP, also crowded," said Russ Jones, President of LODEN Hospitality, which owns The Longleaf Hotel and Lounge, amongst other properties.

Prior to puck drop, the Raleigh Sports Alliance projected Saturday's game alone would have a $12.4 million local economic impact based off ticket sales, though final figures likely won't be released for a few weeks.

"Events like Stadium Series just bring more attention to Raleigh. People are wanting to come to Raleigh anyway, so maybe this is the tipping point for them to come to Raleigh," Jones said about its long-term impact.

The next step: Building upon this success.

"Is Raleigh the next Austin? Is Raleigh the next Nashville? The answer to that is yes, yes, and yes, and we're not just judging that on time," Jones said. "Those two markets specifically are the ones we're compared with the most, (and) we're a little bit behind them. I spend a lot of time in Nashville, I spend a lot of time in Austin. They're a little bit further ahead of us as far as corporate development, so you really need things like this Stadium Series, you need big events, you need investment in the Convention Center, you need investment in other things to bring tourist dollars to the market. So this is a wonderful example of that."