Carter–Finley Stadium is home to the North Carolina State Wolfpack football team. Known as A Den For The Pack, the stadium was officially opened in 1966 and has a current seating capacity of 56,919 seats.
The opening football game on Oct. 8, 1966, was when the Wolfpack hosted South Carolina for Dedication Day. Unfortunately the crowd went home disappointed following a 34-24 loss to a Gamecock team that won only once all season, but this new chapter had begun.
In case you’re not a college sports fan, the NC State Wolfpack football team represents NC State University in the sport of American football. The Wolfpack competes in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
Keep reading below to learn all about Carter-Finley stadium, but if you’re an NC State basketball fan, don’t miss our guide to Reynolds Coliseum.
- About Carter-Finley Stadium
- Where is Carter–Finley Stadium?
- Game Day Experience
- Walk of Champions
- Other Notable Events
- Parking (for NC State Games)
- Food & Beverage
- Gate Information
- What Can You Bring to Carter-Finley Stadium?
- Directions to Carter-Finley Stadium
- Bars near Carter-Finley Stadium
- Restaurants near Carter-Finley Stadium
- Hotels near Carter-Finley Stadium
About Carter-Finley Stadium
Originally named Carter Stadium in honor of Harry C. & Wilbert J. “Nick” Carter, both graduates of NC State who were major contributors to the original building of the stadium. The name of Albert E. Finley, another major contributor to the university, was added in September 1979.
When completed in 1966 for the start of the football season, the new home of Wolfpack Football was considered a modernist marvel, described as a “sleek, 20th-century stadium of rare beauty and functionalism, on a site that will be protected and grow in beauty in the years ahead.”
Over the years the stadium has been upgraded from its original state, and while not the largest of college football stadiums in the US, it encompasses many of the features that make game day exciting and enjoyable for Pack fans and visiting teams!
The south end zone is the home of the 103,254 square-foot Wendell H. Murphy Football Center, well respected for its design for the training and preparation of athletes. Inside is the “Hall of Champions”, locker rooms, coaches offices, and a weight room spans the entire length of the building.
TowneBank Center is a four-level facility that boasts 117,000 square feet and holds 51 luxury suites, 1,000 club seats, and luxurious quarters for the media covering NC State games.
In the north end zone, the A.E. Finley Fieldhouse houses two spacious, state-of-the-art locker rooms that can be divided into smaller locker rooms when Carter-Finley plays host to high school championship games.
Carter-Finley has since earned a reputation as one of the most exciting venues in college football, mainly due to the dedication and energy of Wolfpack fans, and just one feature that makes game day special is the stadium has the smallest clearance between the stands and the sidelines of any stadium in the ACC.
Not only is it a great venue for football games and concerts, but on February 18, 2023 it will play host to the NHL’s Stadium Series game which will feature Raleigh’s very own Carolina Hurricanes vs. Washington Capitals in an outdoor hockey game – more on that down below!
Where is Carter–Finley Stadium?
Carter–Finley Stadium is a 5-mile drive west of downtown Raleigh (approximately 15-minute drive) via Hillsborough St that runs past the North Campus of NC State University.
Drive times and distances from other locations include:
- Raleigh-Durham International Airport: 15 minutes (9.5 miles)
- Durham: 25 minutes (19.6 miles)
- Chapel Hill: 30 minutes (22 miles)
- Charlotte: 2.5 hours (160 miles)
- Washington D.C: 4.5 hours (275 miles)
I have not done this, but you can get to Carter-Finley Stadium by Bus. Route 60 (blue route) on the NC State University Wolfline is open to the public and offers services the stadium. It departs from campus on Hillsborough St. See route map here. Check schedule times here. NOTE: current schedule is only for weekdays!
While the stadium is located on University land, it is a mile west of the academic campus so it is essentially an off-campus stadium.
Note to hockey fans: it is located right next door to PNC Arena, home of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and you can walk easily between both, and those coming to Raleigh for the Stadium Series keep in mind there will be PreGame Fest outside of PNC so you can still get among the atmosphere – keep reading below for more Stadium Series info!
Game Day Experience
Most of this post is regarding NC State Football but keep reading for more information about the upcoming Stadium Series hockey game in February!
NC State football fans are noisy, passionate, and love to tailgate which provides for a super fun environment and atmosphere during game day at Carter-Finley.
Whether you’re a seasoned football fan, an NC State alumni, or it’s your first ever college game in Raleigh, you’re guaranteed a good time whether they win or lose. The energy of the place makes it hard not to enjoy it, especially during night games – keep in mind they’ve been tailgating ALL DAY!
As for tailgating, they say it’s second to none in the state of North Carolina. Personally, I haven’t been to East Carolina (ECU) or Appalachian State (ASU) games yet, but from personal experience the tailgating at State games is way better than at UNC or Duke football games and one of the best in the ACC I’ve been told.
As Australians who grew up without tailgating at any of our sporting codes, the first time we experienced a State ‘game day’ it was a site to behold.
From the full-size RV setups with everything you could possibly need to grill-out, to the various tailgate lots surrounding the stadium filled with State fans (including the setups among the nearby forest – this is Raleigh after all, the City of Oaks), if you haven’t been to a WolfPack football game yet and tailgated, have you even lived in Raleigh?
Even if you don’t know anyone, like we didn’t our first time, the fans are friendly and will be glad to welcome you in, or just walk around and take in the pre-game atmosphere and festivities.
Go big or go home as they say, and yes, there is a football game to watch, too!
- Beer and unfortified wine are the only alcoholic beverages that may be consumed
- Tents must be confined to your parking space and not impede travel lanes
- Tents must be flame-retardant. Do not set up tents near hot coals or open flames.
- Open-flame fires are prohibited.
- Unauthorized vehicles are not allowed in the parking lots. The use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles is strictly prohibited on or over University property.
- See the full policy list here.
NOTE: if you don’t want to supply your own food for tailgating, the nearby Backyard Bistro has a pre-order tailgate menu for groups sizes from 10-40 people you can pick-up.
Walk of Champions
Watching the home team get off the bus and enter the stadium is another cool gameday experience at Carter-Finley.
Just head to the car parking area out front of the Murphy Center (corner of Trinity Rd & Peter Karmanos Jr Dr) and Stadium Gate B and join a large gathering of fans, the NC State band, and cheerleaders who really add to the experience in welcoming the Wolfpack to Carter-Finley Stadium (approximately three hours prior to kickoff).
You can’t miss the “Wolfpack Turf” sculpture, an iconic symbol of the university which marks the entrance to the Murphy Center.
Raleighwood, a 25,000 sq. ft. fan zone is free and open to all fans when the gates open. Located in the northeast corner of Carter-Finley, this concourse area includes food trucks, beverage stations and amenities such as tents, tables (picnic & cocktail) and live music and entertainment options.
Other Notable Events
Besides college football games, other notable events and performances that have been held at Carter-Finley Stadium over the years have included:
- Pink Floyd, May 4, 1988
- The Rolling Stones, September 16, 1989
- Primary venue for the 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games
- U2, October 3, 2009
- Juventus (Italy) vs. Guadalajara Chivas (Mexico) in a soccer friendly, July 28, 2011
- NHL Stadium Series Hockey game, 2023
Leave me a comment if you attended any of these concerts or events and share what the experience was like?
All seating inside Carter-Finley Stadium is reserved seating, and all patrons 3 years of age and older require a ticket.
Most seats are your traditional bleachers, which can get a little uncomfortable over the length of a football game, and if you’re with a large group it is kind of hard to stay seated in your own seat. The numbering system could also be improved upon, and we found it hard to locate our seats in the upper deck on the eastern side the last game we attended.
But almost every seat has an unobstructed view of the field and sight lines are good throughout so no matter where you sit I’m sure you’ll enjoy the experience.
Tuffy’s Terrace is an outdoor Premium Area located in the North End Zone. Enjoy Wolfpack Football with fantastic views from the 1st and 2nd Row Rail Seats, 30-person premium Suites, or with general admission standing room only Tuffy’s Terrace Deck Pass! All packages include access to a private bar and all-inclusive food offerings.
TowneBank Center rises above the west stands and stretches from endzone to endzone. The 117,000 square-foot structure includes four levels, 51 private luxury suites and 955 club seats, as well as a University Suite for the Chancellor. The state-of-the-art facility also includes accommodations for the media, with 112 press seats.
For more premium seating information and Wolfpack Membership click here.
Parking (for NC State Games)
Note, the following parking information I’m sharing below is related to NC State Football games. I don’t know how they operate the parking situation for concerts.
All parking on the ground of Carter-Finley Stadium is reserved and requires a valid permit for entry, so unless you have football season tickets, are a student or a Wolfpack Club Member, the parking situation for single-game tickets can be a little confusing and spread out all over the place, some lots quite a distance from the stadium.
I wish they made it clearer and easier on how to pre-purchase parking if you have a single-game ticket. Our first visit we drove round for an hour trying to figure out where to park, and ended up parking near the NC State Fairgrounds with about a 15-minute walk back.
- Westchase ADA ($20)
- Vet School Deck ($20)
- Frank Weedon Lot (Select Games – $20-$30 depending on game)
There are off-site lots where you can pay to park, one being at the Backyard Bistro where we have paid to park then walk the 10-minutes to the stadium (get here early and grab a bite or drink as the lot fills quickly). And there are other lots scattered about. NOTE: bring CASH for all these lots!
More Parking info:
- All parking gates open five 5 hours before kick-off, unless otherwise noted
- Vehicles are not permitted to line up on public roads prior to the gates opening
- During weeknight games (i.e. Thursday night games), certain parking lots may not be available until 5pm.
- Ingress/Egress Routes can be found here.
- Accessible Parking (see Accessible Parking under letter A)
- For single game RV parking information, please contact the NC State Fairgrounds at 919-612-6767.
- The Wolfpack Express stops throughout select lots for assistance to and from the stadium.
- Pickups begin 90 minutes prior to kick-off and ends 5 minutes into the 1st quarter.
- Pickup and drop off location is Gate 11.
- Post-game assistance starts at the beginning of the 4th quarter and ends 60 minutes after game.
- Stadium West location will drop off at gates 2-4, but will not have service post-game.
Food & Beverage
There are plenty of food and beverage options in the stadium, think your typical stadium food and prices – all concession stands use a cashless pay system! If you have nutrition requirements e.g. gluten free, your options will be limited!
Alcohol is available during games, much to the joy of most fans. Try the New Belgium ‘old tuffy’ which was brewed in partnership with NC State.
Alcohol Sales Policies:
- Sale of beer is limited to two per person, per ID, per purchase (per State Law HB 290).
- Fans must show legal ID
- Anyone appearing under the age of 30 will be subject to ID check
- Beer sales will begin when general stadium gates open 90 minutes prior to kickoff and will stop at the end of the third quarter.
- No alcohol container may be brought in or out of the stadium, including empty containers.
- Alcohol will not be served to anyone who appears to be visibly impaired or intoxicated.
Don’t forget you can visit Raleighwood on game days at Carter-Finley located in the Northeast corner of the stadium near Gate 11 to enjoy food trucks, the Lowes Food Beer Den, and live entertainment pre-game and at halftime.
Stadium entrance gates typically open 1.5 hours prior to kick-off for access to general seating areas, and all gates are accessible entrances into Carter-Finley Stadium. The Carter-Finley Stadium Map can be found here.
TowneBank Center patrons may enter 2 hours prior to the game through Gates 4, 8, and 14 only.
- Student Entrance: Gate 6
- General Will Call: Ammons Family Ticket Center located on the West side between Gates 4 & 5.
- Media Will Call: Gate 5 (Opens 3 hours prior to kick-off)
- Olympic Sport Recruits: Gate 10
- Visiting Team Player Guests: Gate 11
- Police Assistance: University Police Command Center between Gates 4 & 5
What Can You Bring to Carter-Finley Stadium?
Make sure you know what you can, and cannot bring, into the stadium since it may be a long walk back to your car and you can miss out on some of the fun!
They are pretty strict on their bag size policy, so I would recommend getting a wristlet or clear bag if you want to bring one. For more information on their bag policy and sizes click here.
- Handheld still cameras are permitted.
- Detachable lenses must be less than 5 inches long and less than 3.5 inches diameter.
- Camera body cannot exceed 3 inches in depth/length.
- Overall camera and detachable lens combination cannot exceed 8 inches in overall length.
- Flashes are not allowed.
- Video cameras and GoPros are prohibited.
PROHIBITED items and activities include:
- Alcohol brought into the stadium
- Emotional Support Animals (Service Animals are permitted in accordance with the NC State Athletics’s Service Animal Policy)
- Food or drinks of any kind excluding 1 unopened plastic water bottle or 1 empty water bottle, thermos, etc..*
- Laser pointers
- Selfie sticks
- Signs/banners/flags larger than 3’ x 2’
- Smoking (except in designated areas outside of the gates)
- Stroller (large, non-collapsible; collapsible strollers are permitted)
- Umbrellas (no storage of item available at gates)
- Umbrellas (use rain gear or ponchos)
- See the full list here (under P)
Smoking is prohibited in any form through the use of tobacco products (pipes, cigars and cigarettes) or “vaping” with e-cigarettes throughout the Carter-Finley Stadium complex in TowneBank Center, the seating bowl, the concourses and restrooms.
Violators of this policy will be ejected from the stadium. Smoking is permitted in the designated smoking areas at Gates 2 and 8.
Directions to Carter-Finley Stadium
Most people will be driving to the stadium, unless you get dropped off by one of the ride-share services or a bus. Driving directions:
- From the West: Take 1-40 East to the Wade Avenue exit; Exit at Edwards Mill Rd. or Blue Ridge Rd. and follow the signs to Carter-Finley Stadium.
- From the East: Take 1-40 West to the 440 Beltline. Take the Wade Avenue exit and go west. Exit on Blue Ridge Rd. or Edwards Mill Rd. and follow the signs to Carter-Finley Stadium.
Click here to get directions from your location.
Bars near Carter-Finley Stadium
Backyard Bistro (closest)
Listen up, Carolina Hurricanes fans and NC State fans (and their opponents fans), Backyard Bistro is conveniently located just a short walk (10-minutes) from their stadiums, PNC Arena and Carter-Finley Stadium, making it perfect for a pre or post game drink and bite to eat.
Brickhouse Sports Bar & Grille
A west Raleigh favorite and one of the best sports bars in Raleigh is Brickhouse located off Hillsborough Street (directly across from Meredith College) and relatively close to NC State and PNC Arena.
Popular for NC State college games and Carolina Hurricanes fan. In fact, the Wolfpack Weekly radio show with Dave Doeren is held here offering fans the opportunity to attend each recording. It also happens to be the headquarters of the Ohio State Buckeyes alumni club, and New England Patriots fans.
The Players Retreat
Located across from NC State University’s North Campus, the Players Retreat is a tradition with NC State students and alumni. If you can’t make it to Carter-Finley Stadium to cheer on the Wolfpack, join the pack fans here.
Established in 1951, it’s the oldest continuously operating tavern between Atlanta and Washington D.C. one of the storied sports bars in Raleigh and a true landmark in the city!
The Blind Barbour
We haven’t personally been here, yet, but it comes highly recommended by a friend who owns the fantastic Revival 1869 cocktail bar in Clayton. They offer specialty drinks and an extensive list of bourbons served in a vintage-chic speakeasy with live music.
Raleigh Brewing Company
Raleigh Brewing’s mission with every beer brewed is to embrace the City of Oaks (Raleigh), and from the murals of the capital city on the taproom walls, to their beer names and their involvement with local community organizations and nonprofits, this is what they do.
20+ beers on tap with a wide selection of styles. This brewery is very spacious, with a large outdoor patio area (often with a food truck), a nice casual atmosphere and is pet friendly.
Restaurants near Carter-Finley Stadium
The above mentioned sports bars (besides Blind Barbour) all sell quality bar food. As for restaurants, there’s nothing within walking distance of Carter-Finley but the below establishments are a relatively short drive away:
- Vic’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria (8 min drive)
- Ole Time Barbecue (6 min drive)
- Neomonde Mediterranean (7 min drive)
- Amedeo’s Italian (classic NC State joint – 9 min drive)
- Gym Tacos (7 min drive)
- Mandolin (10 min drive)
If you’re heading downtown, check out our list of 22 downtown Raleigh restaurants we recommend to all first timer’s to Raleigh.
Hotels near Carter-Finley Stadium
Need a place to stay close to the action at Carter-Finley, consider these options:
- Four Points by Sheraton Raleigh Arena (2 min drive)
- Hyatt Place Raleigh Cary (5 min drive)
- Hampton Inn & Suites Raleigh/Cary I-40 (PNC Arena) (7 min drive)
- Embassy Suites by Hilton Raleigh Durham Research Triangle (8 min drive)
- The Mayton, Cary (10 min drive)
- Aloft, Raleigh (8 min drive
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions? Or, if you have any of your own tips or suggestions about visiting and watching an event at Carter-Finley Stadium?