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Drinking Debate Brews as Raleigh Arena Approaches Opening

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RALEIGH — Taxpayers helped foot the bill forRaleigh's new arena. The highest bidder may get naming rights. Now the issue is whether big spenders should be allowed to drink alcohol duringN.C. State Universityevents, while the general public cannot.

The current idea is to have no alcohol sales in the general seating at the new arena forN.C. State basketballgames, but allow it in the luxury sky suites.

N.C. State says that policy may be a violation of state law. TheCarolina Hurricanessay they have a state permit that would allow it.

The Hurricanes, who sell the boxes for up to $140,000 per year, want to sell alcohol to their suite holders at all events. On the other hand, N.C. State wants to maintain its "no alcohol" policy at all of its sporting events.

"We have a $50 million interest in this, and you can bet we aren't going to move away from negotiations in this," saysMarye Anne Fox, chancellor of NCSU, who wants to settle any alcohol differences with the Hurricanes. But everyone will have to wait until after the next Board of Trustees meeting.

"Their meeting is going to be in September, and we are probably not going to have a final word about what policy they want to have until then," Fox said. "Right now, the policy that prevails would be that we would oppose alcohol in the arena."

"This is not Hurricanes against N.C. State," says Dean Jordan of Gail Force Holdings, the parent company of the Hurricanes. He says he is willing to talk, but that the Hurricanes have their own approach.

"People buy their basketball tickets from N.C. State; however, a suite is purchased from Gail Force Holdings," he said. "There is no contractual relationship between the suite buyer and N.C. State."

Jordan says that the situation is like renting a house, in that the renter should be able to conduct their business in the suite as long as they are not bothering others.

Both N.C. State and the Hurricanes say they want to work the problem out, and that they do not want to fight about it.


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