A Symbiotic Relationship

Imagine this for a second. For the past few weeks, your team in red and white has been playing better than anyone around. The team you follow is the talk of the town. No matter if you read the newspaper, listen to talk radio, or scour the internet, the only thing people want to talk about is your team! Now it is the day of the game. You walk to your seat at the RBC Center, wearing your red and white. You look around at the red and white crowd, which is foaming at the mouth ready for the game. Unfortunately, there are a few dozen brain-washed people who are wearing blue instead of red. You automatically shake your head and thank whomever taught you that red is good, and blue is the enemy. The national anthem is played and sung by hundreds of people around the arena. You look at the United States of America flag and are proud to be an American. When the anthem is finished, it is now GAMETIME!

Time for the start of North Carolina State vs. North Carolina, right?

No, I am referring to the Carolina Hurricanes vs. Edmonton Oilers. It is June 19, 2006 and it is Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The winner would be the world champion of hockey.

As everyone knows, the Hurricanes won that game 3-1 to win the Stanley Cup, the first in franchise history. That season, especially during the playoffs, cemented the reputation for the RBC Center being the loudest house in the NHL. There were several, if not most, games where you could barely speak to your friend in the next seat. Almost every night your ears would ring long after the game.

The 2009 playoff run to the Eastern Conference Finals ended too quickly for Canes fans, but it did however bring back many of the same memories to me from 2006 and the Stanley Cup Finals run in 2002. And although those memories are very good, part of it is sad.

With the start of the 2010 basketball season just days away and after going to my first hockey game of the year on Tuesday night, I started wondering about something.

As for all of the great memories in the RBC Center for hockey, where are all of the great memories in Wolfpack basketball?

Well, basically in can be summed up in one sentence. The teams have not been good enough and have not won enough to provoke such memories.

Sure, the Pack beat Georgia on a last second three-pointer to christen the arena in 1999, Anthony Grundy hit a last second shot to save us from humiliation to beat UNC-Greensboro, the 18 point comeback against Wake Forest, and a couple (unfortunately only a couple ) victories over Duke and UNC. But for many of us, we remember the losses from Drew Nicholas beating us at the buzzer, the 24 point humiliation to UNC in 2005, the infamous Chris Paul – Julius Hodge punch game, the Duke game where Mike Dunleavy scored more than our team did in the first half (including one 3 pointer made from Pittsboro), the 3 pointers by Hodge at the buzzer when we were down by 4, and many other close and heart wrenching, yet not unexpected, losses.

There is the argument that you can’t compare the atmosphere at NHL playoff games with regular season ACC games and that is a fair point. However, late in the regular season home games against the Rangers and Penguins with a playoff spot on the line were packed and loud. Late season home games for State basketball with nothing beyond an NIT bid on the line were half empty and dead.

But I have heard the question for years—Why do the Hurricanes have to also use the same arena as the Wolfpack? There are some State fans that despise hockey and want the hockey team to move. They are short sighted in their thinking. If they don’t like hockey, fine. But to think that the Wolfpack doesn’t get something from the success of the Hurricanes is completely naïve. The better the Hurricanes do, the larger the check from the Centennial Authority is written to NC State. The more the Hurricanes are on national television and the more they win in the playoffs, the more “face time” the Wolfpack get in areas where the NC State brand is not as strong.

You don’t need to look any further than Matt Hill, former NCAA golf champion at NC State. What was his main reason for coming here? It was that he could play golf all year at a good school that had a local NHL team he could watch.

Another benefit is the HD scoreboard installed in the RBC Center last year.

Folks at NC State have embraced their professional neighbors. Sidney Lowe was seen at most of the playoff games in 2009 wearing a Rod Brind’Amour jersey (sweater for the hockey aficionado). He was the special guest to start the Hurricane siren before at least one game that season.

Bill Cowher was also at several playoff games. He was the special guest to start the Hurricane siren at one game for each playoff series, including infuriating Pittsburgh
Penguins fans when he started it while wearing red. Both Tom O’Brien and Kellie Harper have been seen at playoff games. This year one of our favorite Wolfpackers of all-time, Julius Hodge, started the Hurricane siren.

Over the years, the “Let’s Go Canes” video has included Sidney Lowe, Tom O’Brien and the entire football team, David Thompson & Tommy Burleson, Bill Cowher, Kay Yow, Chuck Amato and our former AD, Lee Fowler.

And the Canes have embraced their neighbors as well. When Brandon Sutter was a rookie with the Canes, he was filmed for the NHL Network about life as a rookie. They followed him to Carter-Finley Stadium as he watched the Pack beat the Miami Hurricanes 38-28 to secure a bowl bid two years ago. You could tell how much he enjoyed it.

The Canes had a very nice video tribute to Kay Yow after she passed away that you can see below.

Coach Yow also dropped the puck on Hockey Fights Cancer night in a 2007 game against the Vancouver Canucks.

What cap did former captain Rod Brind’Amour wear when he had interviews? Is it a Canes cap or a Michigan State cap, his college school? No, it is always a NC State cap. When asked in a radio interview if he was pulling for Michigan State or UNC in the NCAA final in 2009, he said he didn’t care because the game didn’t involve his team, NC State.

What do Brind’Amour and Eric Staal have in common with NC State? They both have said that they pull for the Wolfpack instead of the other two schools in the area.

One former Cane even took the next step and donated to State baseball. From a 2007 N&O article, Mike Commodore showed how much he liked NC State baseball.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BRICK: Mike Commodore played baseball up until college, and the Hurricanes defenseman has become a semi-regular at N.C. State baseball games.
Commodore said he recently contributed $1,000 to the Wolfpack baseball program, earning him a brick engraved with his name outside Doak Field.
“I got a sweatshirt, golf shirt, hat and a brick. That’s what I wanted: a brick with my name on it.”
Informed that New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has his own engraved brick, Commodore said he didn’t have a preference where his was installed.
“I don’t know if mine will be close to his,” Commodore said of Rodriguez’s brick. “He makes more money than I do.”

The Canes also brought the Stanley Cup to Carter-Finley Stadium for the 2006 FSU game on a Thursday night.

So this is a true symbiotic relationship. Now that we are in the Sidney Lowe 2.0 era, I hope that the basketball team becomes more successful to bring the starving fan base victories and championships, just as the Hurricanes have. I don’t need 3 Final Fours, 2 championship game appearances, and one title to match the Hurricanes to be a happy Wolfpacker, but at least one of those would be very nice. The young talent with names like Leslie, Brown, Painter, Howell, Wood, Harrow, etc., along with the long-term deals to Staal and Ward, and young talent like Sutter, Skinner, Boychuk, Harrison, and McBain, show that the future will hopefully be bright in the RBC Center for both the Wolfpack and the Hurricanes. It is time to put up banners for both teams that occupy the RBC Center.

Feel free to take part of the season long discussion thread on the Hurricanes on the SFN Forums page.

About ruffles31

1996 NC State graduate who is still waiting on his first ACC conference championship in any of the four main revenue sports (football, men's basketball, women's basketball, and baseball) since enrolling. All I want is a ACC Champions t-shirt.

NCS Basketball Sports Junkies

24 Responses to A Symbiotic Relationship

  1. mikeD 11/11/2010 at 12:29 PM #

    How about the ’08 win over Miami in OT? Grant steals the inbound pass, puts it in with 3 seconds left to go up 79-77. Great memory.

  2. BJD95 11/11/2010 at 1:04 PM #

    I was at the Miami game, that was lots of fun.

    At times, I have been one of the people who has hoped for the day when the Hurricanes leave. Not because I dislike the team (though embarrassingly, I am bandwagon in that I only pay attention during the playoffs), or that I have a problem sharing the arena.

    What I don’t like is that is not so much a “shared” facility, but rather one dominated in every way by hockey concerns (right down to the color scheme). NC State is clearly the secondary “partner” in the relationship. My view is that the amount of public funds involved should yield more of an equal relationship for the public university.

    That, and the fact that I still don’t think the economics will work for hockey in this market, long-term.

  3. Plz2BStateFan 11/15/2010 at 12:25 PM #

    Is the RBC center colder than most BBall arenas?

    If it is, does that adversly effect our play?

    Or would it be something visiting teams have to overcome?

    Does it take away from the atmosphere?

    spelling go to hell

  4. ncsu1 11/15/2010 at 12:46 PM #

    “How about the ’08 win over Miami in OT? Grant steals the inbound pass, puts it in with 3 seconds left to go up 79-77. Great memory.”

    A couple of examples of how loud the RBC Center can be:

    The color scheme? The State and Hurricanes colors are pretty much the exact same. I really don’t think it’s that unbalanced.

    The ice is completely covered up during basketball games — the arena is the same temperature as any other arena when the ice is covered. Refrigeration under the ice takes care of that.

  5. packalum44 11/15/2010 at 12:55 PM #

    “That, and the fact that I still don’t think the economics will work for hockey in this market, long-term.”

    What’s long term to you? They’ve been here for over 10 years and haven’t folded yet. Raleigh was the fastest growing MSA in the country during the Great Recession and continues to grow at an incredible clip. Many transplants are from the North East and follow hockey. The young adults who were kids growing up with a hockey team are just starting to spend their discretionary income on hockey games and this trend will continue to grow. We get our first All Star game this year. I would get very used to the Hurricanes I don’t think they are going anywhere. Peter K picked this area for its projected growth and economic strength.

    Very good post IMO. Our basketball needs to continue to get better for the atmosphere to improve. The fans will come. I’m so excited to see Harrow, Leslie and Brown that I’m coming down from DC (huge pain in the a** btw) to watch them and going up to Syracuse. Those choices have NOTHING to do with what arena we play in.

  6. Statefan1998 11/15/2010 at 1:02 PM #

    “Does it take away from the atmosphere?”

    I remember reading piece that ranked ACC basketball arenas, in the piece the RBC Center was not even ranked. The writer claimed that it could not be counted as a basketball arena. It was simple a hockey arena. He/she only bothered to rank the other 11.

  7. PackFanInLA 11/15/2010 at 1:02 PM #

    My favorite RBC memory was Damon Thorton’s dunk over that big lanky white Maryland center. He literally jumped over him. I think Maryland may have been ranked at the time.

    But you are absolutely correct – not enough good memories for a decade.

  8. timberwolf 11/15/2010 at 1:02 PM #


  9. coach13 11/15/2010 at 1:09 PM #

    I’d still prefer a smaller venue, more clostraphobic for visiting teams!

  10. Statefan1998 11/15/2010 at 1:13 PM #

    I wanted to add that I love the Canes and never want them to go anywhere.

  11. cWOhLFrPAiCKs 11/15/2010 at 1:19 PM #

    How about the McCauley put back at the end of regulation over Wake Forest? That was incredible. Still can’t believe he just cruised in untouched and jammed home the miss. INCREDIBLE!

  12. wolfbuff 11/15/2010 at 1:20 PM #

    Symbiotic indeed. No way a coliseum as nice and state of the art as the RBC gets built without the Hurricanes. And I doubt the Canes would have found a place to put it without NC State. One could argue that it should be closer to downtown (or at least a more developed area), but that would have added years to the opening date. And it is an absolute windfall for the athletic department. I don’t particularly like the RBC for basketball unless I’m sitting in the fat cat seats. I doubt Reynolds will ever be equaled for its atmosphere. But we had to move on. Overall, it has been positive (for everyone except the CIAA I guess). I’m also not a hockey fan by nature, but have come to appreciate the game and go to a few Canes games a year. Also, the Canes arguably do way much more for the community in terms of outreach, involvement, etc. than NC State. I think we (Pack fans, alumni) have kind of taken Raleigh for granted and haven’t been great neighbors with the community in general like the Canes organization has.

  13. PackMan97 11/15/2010 at 1:23 PM #

    As the saying goes, winning cures all ills.

    Ever go to Cameron for truly meaningless game? The crowd is apathetic and disinterested in the game. That’s the way NC State basketball has been over the past 15 years or so. Sure, there are bright spots…but if you want the RBC rocking, win.

    It was the exact same way with Reynolds. Try getting the crowd of 6k up for a cheer against UNC-G…or when were losing by 20 to Duke. Ain’t gonna happen.

  14. ChemE79a 11/15/2010 at 1:34 PM #

    Just curious – why was this article pulled for a few days and then put back up? I don’t think anything was changed, it still has a couple of typos (not complaining, just noting as evidence that it was not pulled for further editing), and it still has the two replies it got before it got pulled (note date of first two replies versus date of article).

    Again, just curious.

  15. VaWolf82 11/15/2010 at 1:52 PM #

    why was this article pulled for a few days and then put back up?

    SWAG to follow:

    The article was too good to risk getting lost in the weekend football posts…so it was rescheduled.

  16. gcpack 11/15/2010 at 3:28 PM #

    So many State fans comment that we don’t and can’t have the atmosphere at the RBC that we had at Reynolds. I don’t believe that precisely because of the noise that has occurred during recent Hurricanes playoff and championship games. It can get loud at RBC and its up to us to get it loud.

    I agree completely with packMan97 that you have to give the fans something to cheer for. But it is also up to all State fans to keep it loud. I am always impressed by the folks that sit in the 300 section near the ceiling at RBC. Those folks are true supportive fans as I will see them cheering like crazy when some of us in the lower bowl are doing nothing. Think about it. They are in the nosebleed seats and acting like they are on the baseline! We could all take a lead from those fans in the 300 level.

    We can get it loud. The first year that UNCheaters came to the RBC I brought my father and he had to hold his hands to his ears because he said it was too loud for him.

    No excuses State fans. We do have influence. Remember CJ Leslie said that a key part of his staying with State were all the State fans that continued to talk to him about playing for State.

    Time to back up the big talk about this year’s talented basketball team
    with big time cheering.

  17. WV Wolf 11/15/2010 at 4:09 PM #

    I’ve been going to Canes games since the Greensboro days with ruffles31, thought I’d share some random thoughts.

    On the atmosphere/attendence issue, I’m of the “Field Of Dreams” opinion, if you build it, they will come. If you give State fans something to get excited about, they will. Hopefully this is that year. But over the past 20 years there hasn’t been a lot to get excited about, at least not on a consistant basis.

    I have to respectfully disagree with BJD95 on the color scheme. The Whalers went from blue and green to red, white and black. It’s not a coincidence those are NC State colors. There was the whole seat color issue but if there are fans in those seats you can tell anyway, I don’t think the darker red is that big a deal anyway.

    Good point by wolfbuff about the Canes involvement in the community. I appreciate the team’s involvement in the Jimmy V golf tournament, they always have players, coaches and broadcasters participating.

    With the All-Star game in the RBC Center this year, we will have all of the NHL front office and hockey media in town. There is always the possibility that NCSU could get some exposure and good pub because of the relationship between NCSU and the Canes.

    I do think the 2 national championship banners need to be moved to a more visible position in the arena.

  18. BJD95 11/15/2010 at 4:41 PM #

    Almost nothing in that building is “our” shade of red. Certainly not in the seating area.

    The people in the 100s have paid through the nose to make the arena and the athletic department possible. I’m not one to tell them how they should behave.

    I keep hearing how payroll has to be cointinually slashed, and even so, the team must make the playoffs to have any chance to break even financially. That doesn’t sound the least bit healthy to me. Especially if you suspect that payroll slashing will lead to less playoff hockey, and thus further payroll slashing and eventually, much lower attendance.

    I’m not saying the franchise is doomed here, but there’s certainly enough to make me skeptical.

  19. ncsu1 11/15/2010 at 5:20 PM #

    Another advantage to the relationship (announced just a few minutes ago):


    You can order food from certain concession stands from your phone starting with the next home game.

  20. Khan 11/15/2010 at 5:49 PM #

    Spot on. I have no further comment.

  21. john of sparta 11/15/2010 at 8:02 PM #

    +1 wolfbuff and +1 WV….the Canes have really really reached out.
    our Wolfpack is way behind. there are new fans waiting for a reason.
    NCSU should give them At Least ONE Good Reason to be a fan.
    Hurricanes say: “you’re not a fan? that’s ok. come on in.
    we’ll give you a good show anyway.” what’s the Pack got
    beside the game? value-added. there. i said it.

  22. SMD 11/16/2010 at 3:51 PM #

    BJD – I can’t find the link to back this up, but I am pretty certain that “Hurrcanes Red” is the exact same color number as “Wolfpack Red.” They did that on purpose. Granted, the seats in the RBC are not that shade of red – so I don’t think they match either team.

    With regards to the noise and atmosphere for b-ball, I agree that winning would cure a lot of that. We just had the misfortune to be due for a new building during the program’s all-time low. Think of it this way – what if we built the RBC some 14 years earlier for the 85-86 season, perhaps as momentum coming off the 83 title?

    That 86 team went to the Elite Eight for the second straight year and was smack dab in the middle of a pretty good 85-90 run of titles and competing with both shade of blue. We put THOSE teams into a new RBC Center and the legend of the building is off and running.

    I think that all-in-all, sharing the building with the Canes was the best thing for everyone. But I also think that if I had a time machine, I’d go back, bet on a couple of Super Bowls (since I’d know the results…) and use the proceeds to fund a new b-ball only building on campus. In a perfect world, that’s what we should have done.

    I hate Maryland to the core, but man, their Comcast Center is EXACTLY what we should have built. It’s b-ball only, and the architecture evokes Cole Field House. From a building standpoint, the place is a perfect home for Twerp b-ball. I wish we could have done that.

  23. mak4dpak 11/16/2010 at 11:11 PM #

    Don’t blame the RBC, for the basketball team’s woes. Get a winner, and the RBC will rock! Color schemes won’t produce a winner. When we do start producing a winner, the RBC will have lots of great memories, and exciting finishes for State.

  24. The Grinch 11/17/2010 at 12:12 AM #

    The old story I know as a ‘Canes fan is that someone seriously messed up at their job while the arena was being built, accidentally ordering the wrong seat material color. Since the blunder wasn’t caught until the seats/material arrived on site, it couldn’t be righted with realistic expectations (price, time, etc), so the deep red stayed.
    Is this story true? I have no clue. I don’t even know if this would still qualify as a story, rumor, or at this point even a myth.

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