Maintaining A Sense of Place & History:
Our facilities may have changed over the years, but our passion for Wolfpack football remains as strong as it's ever been.
Part 4 - Carter Stadium, and Mr. Finley
Edwards long dreamed of a day when his teams could play in Riddick's replacement. That dream began to become a reality in 1962 when the Wolfpack Club and the school commissioned a feasibility study to develop the details of a new stadium. In December 1964, Chancellor John Caldwell formed a seven-man stadium development committee headed by Raleigh businessman Walker Martin.
Through Walker's diligent efforts and the support of the Wolfpack Club, nearly half of the $3.7 million needed for construction was raised through private donations. The other half was financed by the issuance of a 40-year public bond.
The site selected for the stadium was a 75-acre tract of land owned by the university adjacent to the North Carolina State Fairgrounds – reuniting two partners of years gone by.
A lake that had been as a research fish hatchery was drained to help create the bowl of the stadium, while a field of alfalfa hay was plowed under, cleared and leveled to create the expansive parking lots.
The stadium was designed by Milton Small and Associates and was built by Raleigh's L.E. Wooten and Co. Construction went at a fast pace: "The site…has reverberated a throaty roar of construction," said the dedication program.
Construction of Carter Stadium – named for brothers Harry and W.J. "Nick" Carter, a pair of NC State graduates from Wallace, N.C. who were successful textile manufacturers – took a little over 22 months, much quicker than the drawn-out process needed to complete Reynolds Coliseum, which was started in 1941, was a hulking skeleton of steel girders for nearly seven years and officially opened on Dec. 2, 1949.
The stadium was literally poured into existence after about 300,000 cubic yards of dirt were removed from the site. The unique double-tiered grandstands on the east and west sides required a total of 25,000 tons of concrete, supported by 1,350 tons of steel. Seating capacity was originally listed at just over 40,000.
Less than 10 months before construction was completed, Raleigh philanthropist A.E. Finley (at right) and Associates gave $290,000 to finance a fieldhouse in the north end zone, with lockerroom facilities for two 55-player teams.
When completed, just in time for the start of the 1966 football season, the new home of NC State football was a marvel, described as a "sleek, 20th-century stadium of rare beauty and functionalism, on a site that will be protected and grow in beauty in the years ahead."
The three-story press box was described as "plush," with a full photo deck, five radio broadcast booths, a television production booth and room for 92 writers. Later, it became known as the "double-wide in the sky," an undersized and under-equipped facility that was replaced in 2004 by the expansive and elegantly appointed Vaughn Towers.
It was Edwards' dream to see the stadium built, but the first season had an average attendance of just over 25,500, not much more than the last season at Riddick Field.
It wasn't until Lou Holtz (in hat, at left) arrived in 1972 that the stadium regularly reached capacity.
In four years as NC State's head coach, Holtz compiled a 20-1-1 record at Carter Stadium, including big wins over North Carolina and the school's first victory over Penn State. Wolfpack fans filled every seat, plus all the open spaces on the grassy bank of the south end zone, which was used for years as general admission and student seating.
Edwards got the place built, but the success that followed under Holtz and Bo Rein paid for the place.
In July, 1978, some 26 years ahead of schedule, the final payment was made on the 40-year bonds that paid for the stadium's construction. Funding to retire the debt came from football ticket sales, with all proceeds from home games, minus 10 percent for stadium operating costs, going to pay off the mortgage.
Later that same year, a Charlotte architectural firm actually looked into the possibility of enclosing Carter Stadium with a removable roof and additional seating that would increase capacity to roughly 60,000 spectators, at a cost of roughly $30 million. It was designed to be a multi-purpose facility with a Teflon-coated architectural fabric roof that could also host basketball tournaments. Chancellor Joab Thomas called the project "a terrible financial burden" and the idea was never really pursued.