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Arena Expected to be Ready for Hurricanes Home Opener

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RALEIGH — Raleigh's new entertainment and sports arena is scheduled to open in three months. The outside looks good, but will the inside be ready for Wolfpack basketball, Hurricanes hockey and a host of other events?

Arena officials say it will definitely be ready, and to build up the excitement, they invited 2,000 Chamber of Commerce members inside for a look at the progress.

They say the arena will be ready in time for the Carolina Hurricanes home opener in ten weeks. The arena is being worked on nearly 20 hours a day.

"At any given time you have 300 to 400 people working in the arena at once, so it's a big undertaking," says Sims Hines, arena management vice president.

The main comment from people who got a sneak peek focused on the arena's immense size -- including the eight-sided scoreboard.

"It's a lot bigger than I ever would have thought they were. You know, when you look up at them on the ceiling, obviously it looks huge but it's a lot larger," says Tara Hinderlite, who toured the facility Wednesday.

Arena officials promise every seat will have a great view. Hinds says this arena is setting standards for all others.

"So we think we're going to have some of the best sight lines, meaning our fans will have a closer view of the action than any of the other arenas being built," says Hines. "Every seat is going to have a cushion. There's no other arena in the Carolinas that can say that."

And speaking of seats, the cushion controversy continues.

"It's not that big of a deal to me, but I can see they're not Wolfpack red," says tour member Keith Rothschild.

There are 175 events a year planned for the arena; only 56 will be N.C. State basketball or the Hurricanes games.

Other events include the CIAA Tournament, aWomen's World Cup Soccerexhibition game, arena football, WWF wrestling and aJames Taylorconcert on New Year's Eve. Reporter: Lynda Loveland

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