Raleigh, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes will allow for increased capacity at PNC Arena for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, generally the time where the team’s fans have been at their most passionate.
In a news conference Friday, team President and General Manager Don Waddell estimated the team could allow as many as 10,000 to 12,000 fans for their games next week against the Nashville Predators. PNC Arena’s published capacity is 19,722.
The team will work with the NHL to discuss limits on exactly how many fans can be allowed and other possible rules for those in the building and tailgating outside the arena. Social distancing between seating pods will no longer be required.
“Obviously with discussions still pending, the number is probably someplace between 10 and 12,000,” Waddell said. “I know it’s a big range, but also when you talk about it, you’ve got to include everybody that’s in the building.”
“Our goals is to get as many people as possible. Hopefully, we’ll know that number in the next 24 hours or so.”
Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Friday afternoon that the state would no longer require masks and social distancing. All current capacity restrictions in indoor spaces have also been lifted.
Gov. Cooper is a noted Hurricanes fan, often voicing support for the team on social media.
“The Governor’s a big hockey fan,” Waddell said. “I know he heard about it from a lot of people on social media.”
Masks will still be required inside PNC Arena, per NHL rules. Waddell said airflow within the venue is a key factor to the capacity limit. Tickets will go on sale to the general public at noon on Sunday, May 16.
“The main goal here is not just keeping air flow for our players and customers, but also keeping our ice at a good temperature with the humidity in North Carolina. It’s about pumping cool air into the building, which takes some different equipment.”
On Thursday, the Hurricanes sold out of their Round 1 ticket inventory, but that was before Cooper’s announcement. Game 1 of the first round is scheduled for Monday night at 8 in Raleigh. Game 2 is in Raleigh on Wednesday night. Games 5 and 7, if necessary, would also be home games for the Hurricanes.
Since moving to Raleigh in 1999, the Hurricanes have made an effort to claim PNC Arena as “The Loudest House in the NHL.” Carolina fans gained notoriety throughout the league during a championship run in 2006 and Eastern Conference Final appearances in 2009 and 2019. There was also a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2002.
Needless to say, the Hurricanes want as many “Caniacs” at the arena as possible for another postseason sprint.
“We’ve got a great staff here,” Waddell said. “We’re gonna try to do everything possible to make it a great experience for our fans.”
The Predators will allow for 12,135 to attend their home playoff games at Bridgestone Arena.