Regular outings to see the Carolina Hurricanes or major college sports team play in our region aren't in the budget for my family.
Luckily, for my sports-loving older daughter, the Triangle's colleges and universities offer plenty of other options where tickets are cheap and even free. We've seen volleyball and soccer. And, last weekend, the four of us went to see the N.C. State women's basketball team square off against Carolina at Reynolds Coliseum.
Before I go any further, I'll share my own allegiances. My husband and I both graduated from the University of Virginia. My six-year-old declared her love of Carolina when she was three. And, when given a choice between Virgina, Carolina and N.C. State, my two-year-old always says she's for the "Wufpack."
So, as you can see, we're a house divided. But never mind all that, we had a great time at the game.
First of all, N.C. State puts on a show. There are dozens of cheerleaders and a dance team, who all hit the court throughout the game during time outs and half time. The Wolfpack's mascots Mr. and Mrs. Wuf roam the stadium, entertaining the crowd and stopping to visit with kids. And the N.C. State band, wearing matching red and white striped shirts that reminded my older daughter of her Waldo books, helped build all the excitement.
Then there is the game. I'm not a sports writer, so I won't get into the details. But there were multiple team introductions, complete with multimedia presentations. Videos played on the Jumbotron trumpeting the team and the plays.
My older daughter - who cheered when she learned we were going to see women, not men play - was absolutely riveted for the entire two hours. For most of the game, it was close between N.C. State and Carolina, who ultimately won. Both nets saw plenty of action.
In other words, it's the same kind of experience you get at any other major sports game ... just at a fraction of the price. Parking was free. The tickets to the game were a Christmas present, so my husband splurged and got the $7 seats. You can also get them for $5 a piece.
As it turns out, we didn't even need to buy tickets for the kids. Children who are 17 and under are admitted for free for general admission seats, said Mark Kimmel, who works in media relations for the Wolfpack. A box of popcorn and two bottles of water set us back another $8.
Six home games remain for the regular season, including Friday night's match against Florida State at 6:30 p.m. Friday night also is mascot night when local mascots, including the Wufs, will play a game during half time. That's sure to be a kid pleaser. Kimmel says it's a lot of fun.
The 2 p.m., Feb. 5, game against my own Virginia Cavaliers is Pack the House night. All tickets are just $1.
And Hoops 4 Hope, a breast cancer awareness event, is 5 p.m., Feb. 12. The event will feature a commemorative game program wrap and ticket. Fans will get a free T-shirt while supplies last. And, Garner native and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery will perform. I'm told that tickets are not yet sold out for this event, though they are selling pretty quickly thanks to Scotty. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids for that special event.
Other promotions this season included a dads and kids nights in December.
We'll be back for more women's basketball games and to see other college sports across the Triangle. I'll be sure to let you know how they are.