By now you have probably heard that the Columbus Blue Jackets will be moving east next season and will now play in the Metropolitan Division. While Columbus Blue Jackets fans are excited for new division rivals to come to Nationwide Arena, another fun and rewarding experience is to take a road trip and visit an opposing team’s arena (preferably against the CBJ). With all divisional play now occurring within the Eastern Time Zone, travel has never been easier for Blue Jackets fans!
For the Metro Division Travel Guide series, I gathered input from fellow FanSided staff writers who have frequented these arenas. We will take a look at each member of the Metropolitan Division and cover three basic areas: why you should make the trip, the best food and drink options before and after the game, and the best (and affordable) seating options in the arena.
Our first featured road trip is the Carolina Hurricanes , who have called PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC home since 1999. To add some local knowledge, I got some help from NC native and Union and Blue staff writer Peter Dewar. The Hurricanes began life in the NHL as the Hartford Whalers, before relocating to NC after the 1996 season. While many hockey fans still mourn the loss of the whale, the Hurricanes have gained a loyal following in North Carolina. After a cup run that fell short in 2002, the team won the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2006.
Distance From Nationwide Arena:
When the Blue Jackets Will Be There:
Monday Dec 23, 20013: 7PM
Monday Jan 27, 2014: 7PM
Saturday Mar 29, 2014: 7PM
(Source: bluejackets.nhl.com )
Why It is Worth the Trip:
NC is a fantastic place to visit in general. Most of us are kind and will show good southern hospitality. The draw of the Hurricanes is that they are, contrary to popular belief, an exciting, skilled team. The arena is well kept, and the atmosphere is electric.
Best Pre/Post Game Hangout:
Before the game, without question you have to tailgate. Canes fans are known for intense street hockey games, as well as delicious grilled food. After the game, the place to be is Lucky B’s, a bar owned by former Hurricane Bates Battaglia. Bates will sit down and have a beer with you if he has some time, and as a winner of the TV show Amazing Race, he has some great stories. Other alumni sometimes come into the bar as well.
Where you should sit:
The arena is laid out simply: 3 tiers with most of tier 2 reserved for media. The best place to sit is right around the center ice line. No matter how far up you sit, the view is fantastic. The lower seats will be more expensive, but if you can get ‘em, it’s worth it. There’s also a new section in tier 2. These are the most expensive tickets, and the view is pretty great (it’s behind a goal line with a view of the whole ice), plus waiters cater to your needs. Worth the extra dough if you ask me.
As Peter pointed out in the Joining the Eastern Conference series, the Blue Jackets and Carolina are very similar teams. Carolina is a hard working, skillful team that makes their opponent earn every win. Much like the Jackets, they have a deep roster filled with talent, including Eric and Jordan Staal, and 2011 Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner. With the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes seemingly so evenly matched, as well as the game day environment highlighted above, a game between the two would be well worth the trip.