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Ground Broken Monday for Raleigh Arena

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An aerial view of the arena construction site from Sky 5.
RALEIGH — The budget battle thatpreceded approval of Raleigh's proposed arena was dirty, but itcouldn't hold a candle to the shovels full of mud that flew Monday at thearena's official groundbreaking ceremony.

The ceremonial shovels may have grabbed all the attention, but the realwork is already well underway on Raleigh's $120 million entertainment andsports arena.

Monday was merely a day to thank the North Carolina State Universityand the National Hockey League, both of which will call the arena home when it is completed. Also thanked were Raleigh and Wake County leaders, the Centennial Authority and some with no authority whatsoever. Nearlyevery speaker mentioned the many disagreements that marked the roadMonday's ceremony.

Governor Jim Hunt said all the participants learned a lesson as theydodged the potholes along the way.

State tax dollars will pay for the interchange that will connect thearena with Wade Avenue and points beyond.

When the arena opens, the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes will behigh-profile tenants, but so far, season ticket sales have been soft.Team owner Peter Karmanos says he's optimistic and willing to wait forsuccess to come.

Karmanos says that the Hurricanes have sold less than 4,000 season ticketsso far -- his goal is to sell 12,000. They say that the team can makejust as much money as they did in Hartford, if they sell half of thegoal.

Team officials insist that the goal is still reachable, because theHurricanes just started their corporate sales pitch.

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