Guide to Reynolds Coliseum (NC State University’s Iconic Venue)

A sporting highlight for me last year was sitting courtside at iconic Reynolds Coliseum for an NC State women’s basketball game. One of the many reasons I love living in Raleigh is the college sports scene, and it doesn’t get much better than attending a game here!

Inside a basketball arena with fans in the stand watching players on the court
Reynolds Coliseum

NC State Wolfpack fans have been attending games, concerts and ceremonies at this storied building since 1949, and while it has been upgraded and modernized in recent years, you can feel the history the moment you arrive outside the entrance up to walking onto the court. 

If you’re planning to attend a game or an event at Reynolds, you’ll find this guide to the Coliseum helpful. I’ll share information on the venue and where it is, the historical significance, who currently plays there, parking, places to eat nearby, and hotels to stay at.

Outside of a basketball coliseum
Front entrance

You don’t have to be a Wolfpack fan or alumni to appreciate the history and character at this on-campus arena, and if you love college basketball like me, keep reading to see what a night at an NC State Women’s basketball game is like inside Reynolds.

Where is Reynolds Coliseum?

Inside a basketball museum showing memorabilia
Grand Hall

The coliseum is a prominent landmark and one of the most famous buildings on campus at North Carolina State University (main campus) off Hillsborough Street and is just 2.2 miles from downtown Raleigh and is easily accessible from various other parts of the Triangle area. 

The official address is: 2411 Dunn Ave Raleigh, NC 27607. Get directions from your current location. Drive times to Reynolds include:

  • Downtown Raleigh, 8 minutes
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport, 22 minutes.
  • Durham, 32 minutes
  • Chapel Hill, 40 minutes

About Reynolds Coliseum

Basketball game indoors with fans watching
NC State vs Miami, 2022

Officially known as James T. Valvano Arena at William Neal Reynolds Coliseum, this historic multi-purpose arena at NC State University was opened on March 2, 1949 and was the largest basketball arena in the southeast with a capacity of 14,000 at the time. 

It was named after William Neal Reynolds (1863-1951) a top executive and major shareholder in the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in Winston-Salem, N.C., who donated money to the University to supplement professors’ salaries.

Basketball player holding a ball up to pass
NC State vs Miami, 2022

It is the current permanent home of NC State women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics, women’s volleyball and men’s wrestling, as well as NC State’s ROTC units, offices and classrooms.

The venue is also an important on-campus gathering place for large-scale campus and student events, such as convocation, graduation, keynote addresses, concerts and shows, befitting one of the nation’s leading public research universities.

Inside a basketball stadium with fans in the stand
Home of the Wolfpack

This arena holds a lot of nostalgia for NC State students, alumni and Wolfpack fans. Reynolds was home to the men’s basketball team for nearly 50 years, including two NCAA champion teams of 1974 and 1983 before they moved off campus to PNC Arena (in 1999) near Carter-Finley Stadium, but have played a December regular-season “heritage” game at Reynolds Coliseum in recent years.

School band playing at a basketball game
The band rocks!

Reynolds Coliseum is also the current home for the NC State Athletic Hall of Fame and Walk of Champions, and in the past many famous speakers and performers.

After closing its doors in March 2015 for a major renovation, the $35 million Reynolds Coliseum renovation and the Walk of Fame and History project was completed in Aug. 2016.

Plus, significant renovations aimed at improved seating, acoustics, and overall functionality while preserving the arena’s architectural significance.

A basketball player holding the ball up away from a defender
NC State v Miami, 2022

The basketball court, where Hall of Famers Norm Sloan, Jim Valvano (Jimmy V) and Kay Yow once coached, was shifted to the south end, seats rearranged closer to the playing surface and air conditioning was added for the first time in the building’s 67-year history. Seating capacity was also reduced from 8,300 to 5,500 to provide an intimate home court environment for the Wolfpack. It’s regarded as one of the best arenas of that size in the country!

Cheer girls waving to crowd at basketball game
Pack cheer squad!

On February 16, 2007, Reynolds Coliseum basketball court was renamed Kay Yow Court in her honor. She was the head coach of the NC State Wolfpack women’s basketball team from 1975 to 2009. 

Mascot of a wolf at a basketball game
Mr Wuf in Valvano Arena

On Nov. 14, 2018, a naming gift helped to rename the facility the James T. Valvano Arena at William Neal Reynolds Coliseum in honor of the legendary former men’s basketball coach. 

Floor of a basketball court plus the hoop and fans in the stand
The Grand Hall is behind that glass wall

The design of the coliseum is a blend of classic and modern elements, featuring a distinctive curved roof and brick façade, and the venerable “old” Reynolds Coliseum is now a place where the Wolfpack’s legendary past meets its promising future.

Historic Moments

Inside a basketball museum showing memorabilia.

The first men’s basketball game was played on December 2, 1949, against Washington & Lee University, with NC State winning 67–47. And the first women’s basketball game was played on December 7, 1974.

It was the original site of the ACC men’s basketball tournament from 1954 to 1966, the Dixie Classic tournament from 1949 to 1960, and the Southern Conference men’s basketball tournament (1951–1953). 

It has hosted the NCAA men’s basketball tournament as a Regional site eight times, and as a subregional (first and second-round games) four times. 

Basketball game with a player taking a shot
Pack at the free throw line

It has also hosted the women’s basketball tournament eleven times, only one of which was a regional site. The ACC women’s basketball tournament was held there twice, in 1979 and 1982. 

The arena has also hosted several big name concerts featuring artists such as Def Leppard, Van Halen, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, and Louis Armstrong. Former presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have addressed students, faculty, and campus visitors here.

And on November 7, 2016, Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, held her last rally before the 2016 Presidential election at Reynolds and also present were Lady Gaga & Bon Jovi. Lady Gaga delivered a speech before joining Bon Jovi in a live performance.

Seating and Facilities

Inside a basketball arena showing the court and fans in the stand

The current capacity of Reynolds Coliseum includes permanent seating for 5,500 (can accommodate 6,000 depending on configuration).

I’ve sat courtside and up in the stands and can say because of its size and configuration there’s literally not a bad seat in the house. The site lines are uninterrupted and you’re right on top of the action. You get great value for your money and its very family-friendly (our kids have been to games here too). See seating map here.

Seats inside a basketball arena

Inside a basketball stadium showing the scoreboard and fans
The scoreboard is easy to see from any seat

The arena is also very handicapped accessible with ramps, an elevator and prime handicapped seating. Overall, the facility is clean and well-maintained.

Parking at Reynolds 

Basketball referee holding up a basketball

NC State University has various parking lots and decks located around the campus, and some of these parking areas may be available for event parking at Reynolds Coliseum. Note that these spaces might fill up quickly during popular games and events, so arriving early is highly recommended.

  • Game Day Parking: is free and available in the Coliseum Parking Deck at 201 Jensen Dr, Raleigh, across the street from the Dail Soccer Field and Track Complex. HOT TIP: reverse into your parking spot, makes leaving easier after the game!
  • Season Parking Pass: if you have a season parking pass you may use that to park in the Jeter Bay Lots which open 90-minutes prior to tip-off and you must have your parking permit displayed at all times.
  • ADA Parking: A limited number of ADA spaces are available on a first come first serve basis in the first Jeter Bay Lot and opens 90-minutes prior to tip-off. You must have a valid ADA Permit displayed at all times.

For a full list of all NC State parking lots near Reynolds go here. In the past I have parked on Hillsborough Street and made the short walk to the venue, but note that these are paid parking meters until 6pm. 

Grand Hall & Walk of Fame

Inside a basketball museum showing memorabilia

As you walk through the main entrance, the first third of the arena has been transformed into the Grand Hall and where you’ll find the NC State Athletics Walk of Fame and History. On display are exhibits celebrating the rich history and tradition of Wolfpack athletics, and flow throughout the concourses of the arena.

This Grand Hall pays tribute to decades of many sporting events held in this building and galleries of historical artifacts are on display.

Inside a basketball museum showing memorabilia

The NC State Athletics Walk of Fame & History, which opened in 2016, celebrates the history of the Wolfpack. One of the primary objectives of Reynolds Coliseum was to merge the great history of athletics with an eye on the future. 

On display are Wolfpack icons, all four of NC State’s national championship programs are recognized in the main floor of the Grand Hall, plus all of NC State ACC and NCAA individual champions are recognized as well.

Inside a basketball museum showing memorabilia

There’s a wolfpack sculpture at the top of the stairs on the second level where fans learn about iconic figures such as Kay Yow and Jim Valvano, as well as the pioneers of NC State Athletics.

Statue of a wolf inside a basketball stadium

Additional displays highlight State’s numerous Olympians and professional athletes, there’s interactive displays, it’s a fun walk down memory lane while giving something interactive and fun for the kids to enjoy.

Game Day at Women’s Basketball

Players warming up for a basketball game
Pre-game warm ups

I love watching women’s NC State basketball at this historic venue. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend games here as a kid so can’t compare today’s experience to those in the early years when the men played. I would have loved to have experienced the old Reynolds.

The student section is vocal and passionate, the band is fun and talented, and of course the cheer squad does a great job of entertaining and getting the crowd going too and the energy is electric. Watch our video below.

Man and woman sitting courtside at a basketball game
Sitting courtside was a blast!
Fans and the school band at a basketball game
Student section and band
  • Game Entry – Doors open 60-minutes prior to game time.
  • Ticket Information – Season tickets for women’s basketball are sold out for the 2023-24 season. Single game and mini packs are available for purchase here. NC State Women’s Basketball utilizes mobile ticketing. 

Food & Drink (inside Reynolds)

School band dancing at a basketball game

While it’s a beautiful building and a great place to watch basketball, you can expect your typical average stadium food choices that are minimal such as hot dogs, pizzas, chicken wraps, nachos, pretzels and peanuts. 

Nothing I would consider “healthy” here and if you’re gluten-free will probably struggle. I suggest eating before or after the game, depending upon tip off time, see suggestions for restaurants below.

You can buy domestic and premium beer, soda, powerades and bottled water etc. 

Places to Eat (near Reynolds Coliseum)

People sitting at a bar drinking and watching sports
The Players Retreat

There are several great options for food and drink within walking distance or a short drive, let’s start off with a few classic NC State establishments:

  • The Players Retreat (PR) – a tradition with NC State students and alumni for over 70 years and one of the storied sports bars in Raleigh. Great burgers and the largest collection of single malts in NC. (14 min walk, 6 min drive).
  • Mitch’s Tavern – established in 1974, this is another of Raleigh’s true landmarks and favorite historic bars, especially for NC State students and alumni as it’s located on Hillsborough Street directly across from campus. Popular for sandwiches, hearty soups, and chili. (7 min walk, 6 min drive).
  • Sammy’s Tap & Grill – Sammy’s has been West Raleigh’s premier sports bar for just over 20 years and for college sports this is still one of my favorite Raleigh sports bars and another NC State hangout. (15 min walk, 5 min drive).
mitchs tavern raleigh 2
Mitch’s Tavern
  • Brickhouse Sports Bar & Grill – a west Raleigh favorite located off Hillsborough Street (directly across from Meredith College) and relatively close to NC State and PNC Arena. (35 min walk, 10 min drive). 
  • Amedeo’s Italian Restaurant – casual Italian restaurant & pizzeria with a sports-bar feel, frequented by NC State Wolfpack fans. (30 min walk, 8 min drive).
  • Gonza Tacos Y Tequila – a colorful and fun place serving up tasty Mexican/Colombian food on Hillsborough plus hand crafted Latin cocktails, an extensive variety of tequilas and spirits. One of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Raleigh. (11 min walk, 5 min drive).
Man holding a plate of nachos
Great nachos at Gonzas!
  • Jubala Coffee – next door to Gonza is one of our favorite coffee shops in Raleigh, Jubala offers a full coffee bar, excellent lattes, I love their bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits and my kids their banana Nutella waffles! (11 min walk, 5 min drive).
  • David’s Dumpling & Noodle Bar – popular for Vietnamese, Chinese and Malaysian special soups and small plates served at lunch, dinner or late night. (13 min walk, 6 min drive).
  • Irregardless Cafe – a Raleigh staple and true farm-to-table experience offering not only excellent vegetarian and vegan options, but also meat and seafood dishes – something for everyone and one of the best brunch spots in Raleigh. (22 min walk, 6 min drive). 

Hotels near Reynolds Coliseum

Hotel on the edge of a lake surrounded by forest
Stateview Hotel on NC State Centennial Campus

When you visit Raleigh from out of town or out of state and need a hotel near Reynolds, there are a few options within walking distance, but most of the hotels are in downtown Raleigh which is only an 8 minute drive away!

  • Aloft Raleigh – prime location on Hillsborough Street and right across the road from North Carolina State University and the iconic Bell Tower. 
  • StateView Hotel – located on NC State University’s Centennial Campus, this is a boutique Marriott Autograph Collection hotel offering a full-service experience with luxury, convenience and comfort. Read our full review.
  • Residence Inn Raleigh Downtown – looking for hotels in downtown Raleigh within easy walking distance to concert venues, museums, the best Raleigh restaurants, and bars? The Residence Inn offers great value. Read our full review
  • The Casso, Raleigh, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel – located on the edge of the vibrant Warehouse District, an upmarket hotel with easy access to the best of Raleigh.

For a full list of hotels in Raleigh to choose from, go here. And if you’re flying into Raleigh-Durham International airport and looking to stay closer to the airport, check out this list of 10 hotels near RDU airport. 

Summary

Cheer leaders dancing at a basketball game

In summary, Reynolds Coliseum might be small in size, but it is large in history and fortunately has maintained much of its character over the years.

I’m looking forward to seeing more games here, and would also like to check out some volleyball games and wrestling. When you go, I suggest you get to the game early and check out the Hall of Fame and Walk of Champions.

Do you have memories from this venue? Please share in the comments section below!

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