State Stands to Benefit From Outdoor Hockey Game

Brett Friedlander

The Carolina Hurricanes scored on their goal of landing an NHL Stadium Series event last week when the league announced that it is bringing an outdoor hockey game to Raleigh on Feb. 20, 2021.

But they couldn't have done it without an assist from NC State.

“I would be remiss if we didn’t thank NC State for the incredible cooperation that the Hurricanes are now getting from the athletic department at NC State,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a conference call announcing the game. “Without that cooperation, this would not have been a possibility.”

State athletic director Boo Corrigan and his senior associate for facilities John Portland were front-and-center in helping the Hurricanes and the NHL with the logistics of setting up an ice surface in the middle of Carter-Finley's football field.

At least twice last fall, cones were set up in the configuration of a regulation sized rink at the 57,583-seat stadium so that visiting league officials can simulate sight lines and other aspects of an outdoor game.

According to Corrigan, however, State's most significant contribution in the process leading up to the awarding of the Stadium Series game was simply providing the okay to let the event take place.

"Clearly, it's our facility," Corrigan said on Thursday. "We needed to make sure it was meeting the needs that they had, but meeting our needs as well for what it is with our football program and everything else we do here. That's always going to be our focus."

While benefits of hosting an outdoor game in Raleigh are obvious from the Hurricanes' perspective, Corrigan said that there's also plenty to gain for the Wolfpack.

Not all of them are financial, although the AD made it clear that State "isn't going to do anything where we're going to lose money.

"The first thing you're looking at when you do something like this is (say) what a great event for this area and how can we participate as a corporate citizen," Corrigan said. "We've got 170,000-plus alums living in the state of North Carolina and they'd love to see this. They'd love to be a part of this. So how can we best partner up with the Hurricanes, with the NHL to make something like this happen?

"It's a goodwill thing. There is some offset for everything that we do here, but again this is a whole log more about the community and a whole log more about being a good partner."

Corrigan joked that he's negotiating to have State's Tuffy mascot logo painted at center ice of the outdoor rink for the game.

But even without that, the university and its athletic programs will get plenty of valuable -- and free -- exposure during the course of the event's national television broadcast.

"They're going to get a lot of attention and it's a national television game," said Hurricanes' owner Tom Dundon, who has doggedly pursued the Stadium Series for Raleigh since buying the team in 2018.

"The venure and the university ... hopefully it's a really good thing for them, too, because it's going to be great for us and our fans. I'd like it to be good for them also."

The Hurricanes opponent for the game, seating configurations and ticket information have yet to be announced.