N.C. State counters Hurricanes’ claim in PNC Arena dispute

chip.alexander@newsobserver.comJune 8, 2013 

PNCLOGO01.NE.031512.CAT

Chris Green, an employee of Poblocki, watches as the final touches are placed on the PNC Arena logo before its unveiling on Thursday March 15, 2012.

CASEY TOTH

— N.C. State released information Saturday that chancellor Randy Woodson said shows the university has been reasonable in using its priority on scheduling dates in PNC Arena.

The university and Gale Force Holdings, the company that owns the Carolina Hurricanes, have been at odds over the dates made available for the Canes’ games and other events. Gale Force claimed the university locked down an excessive number of dates for a minimal amount of football and basketball games, leaving the Hurricanes liable to possible NHL fines.

On Saturday, N.C. State released its numbers. The university said from Aug. 29 to March 8, 2014, it initially held out 91 dates of an available 192 dates for 28 events.

N.C. State said for football, 26 dates were initially held and that by Feb. 25, 2013, all but the eight dates needed to schedule home games for the 2013 season had been released. For men’s basketball, it said 29 dates were held and that by May 31 all but the 17 dates had been released -- 13 needed for nine basketball games scheduled for the 2013-204 season, and four dates needed to complete the schedule and cover the university’s winter commencement.

For its ACC basketball schedule, which has yet to be released, N.C. State is holding 40 dates.

“It adds clarity and certainly demonstrates the approach we have taken throughout all of this to do everything we can to help the Hurricanes with their situation but also be mindful of the fact we’re trying to schedule our games,” Woodson said Saturday of the numbers. “I think the big issue that has been discussed ... has been what’s changed? We’re working under the same contract we’ve always had. What’s changed is we’re working hard to build an excellent (athletic) program here.”

Hurricanes president and general manager Jim Rutherford, in a letter sent May 14 to the Centennial Authority, said 129 dates out of 214 dates -- including 26 of 30 days in November -- had been held by N.C. State. He said from Oct. 15 to Jan. 1, 2014, N.C. State was holding 42 of 92 days for seven to eight home basketball games.

The university said Gale Force in past years has contacted ACC officials to ask that certain dates be withheld for hockey games. The university said it first became aware of that contact within the past year, and that N.C. State requested the ACC have contact only with university officials.

“All of us were surprised that Gale Force had been working directly with the ACC to change our basketball schedule,” Woodson said.

“That’s inconsistent with the contract and inconsistent with what we need to do to build a winning program.”

Rutherford said the Hurricanes’ home dates for the 2013-2014 season had to be submitted to the NHL by June 1. Any date change made after June 1 could result in a $100,000 fine, he said.

The university said it does not receive its ACC basketball schedule until August or September. Woodson said the arena contract specifies athletics director Debbie Yow and the athletic department use “its best efforts” to release dates by June 1, saying N.C. State had done that.

“Criticizing my athletic director for following the contract is inappropriate,” Woodson said.

Rutherford said N.C. State’s lockdown on dates prevented Gale Force from scheduling a wrestling event, which he said would have netted about $170,000.

Gale Force operates the arena, with oversight from the Centennial Authority. It schedules events in the arena and is responsible for annual operating deficits.

On Thursday, the authority voted to request Rutherford and N.C. State chancellor Randy Woodson meet in the next two weeks to reach a solution to the scheduling issues. Woodson said Saturday he and Rutherford would meet in about two weeks.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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