The RBC Center (originally the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena) is an indoor arena located in Raleigh, North Carolina. It is home to the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League and the North Carolina State University Wolfpack men’s basketball team of NCAA Division I. The arena also hosted the Carolina Cobras of the Arena Football League from 2000 to 2002. The arena neighbors Carter-Finley Stadium, home of Wolfpack Football; the North Carolina State Fairgrounds; and Dorton Arena (on the Fairgrounds).
The arena seats 19,722 for basketball or 18,680 for ice hockey, including 75 luxury suites and 2,000 club seats. The building has three concourses, and includes a 500-seat restaurant. It is the second largest arena in the ACC and the tenth-largest in the NCAA.
The idea of a new basketball arena first emerged in the 1980s under the vision of Wolfpack coach Jim Valvano. In 1989, the NCSU Trustees approved plans to build a 23,000 seat arena. The Centennial Authority was created by the NC Legislature in 1995 as the governing entity of the arena, then financed by state appropriation, local contributions, and University fundraising. The Centennial Authority refocused the project into a multi-use arena, leading to the 1997 relocation agreement of the Hurricanes (then the Hartford Whalers). Construction began that year and was completed in 1999 with an estimated cost of $158 million, which was largely publicly financed by a Hotel and Restaurant tax. The Hurricanes agreed to pay $20 million of the cost, and the state of North Carolina paid $18 million.
Known as the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena or ESA from 1999 to 2002, it was renamed the RBC Center after an extended search for a corporate sponsor. RBC Bank, a U.S. bank that is owned by the Royal Bank of Canada, acquired 20-year naming rights for a reported $80 million.
On October 29, 1999, Raleigh, North Carolina experienced its first NHL game when the Carolina Hurricanes hosted the New Jersey Devils on opening night of the ESA. The Carolina Hurricanes were on home ice for a decisive game 7 when they won the Stanley Cup on June 19, 2006 against the Edmonton Oilers, 3–1, bringing North Carolina its first major professional sports championship.
In 2008 the RBC Center renovated its sound system. Clair Brothers Systems installed a combination of JBL line arrays to provide improved audio coverage for all events.
In June 2009, video crews at the arena installed a new Daktronics High-Definition scoreboard. It replaced the 10 year-old scoreboard that has been in the arena since opening. This new scoreboard is in full LED and is 4-sided, whereas the old scoreboard was 8-sided and featured alternating static dot-matrix displays (very much outdated for today’s standards) and full color video displays. The new board features an octagonal top section with full video capability. In addition there are two rings similar to the ribbon board encircling the bowl. The entire video broadcasting system for RBC Center is being overhauled and upgraded to HD.
The arena has hosted many notable World Wrestling Entertainment events including WWF SummerSlam 2000 and WWE No Mercy 2006.
The RBC Center hosted the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) men’s basketball tournament from 1999 to 2008, and was a site for Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2004 and 2008 men’s NCAA basketball tournaments.
The RBC Center will host the 2012 USA Summer Olympic Trials in June.