J.S. Dorton Arena, Raleigh

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J.S. Dorton Arena (known to its architect as the Paraboleum) is a 7,610-seat multi-purpose arena located in Raleigh, North Carolina, on the grounds of the North Carolina State Fair. It opened in 1952.Architect Maciej Nowicki was killed in an airplane crash before the construction phase, and local architect William Henley Dietrick supervised the completion of the arena using Nowicki's innovative design. Its design features a steel cable supported saddle-shaped roof in tension, held up by parabolic concrete arches in compression. The arches cross about 20 feet above ground level and continue underground, where the ends of the arches are held together by more steel cables in tension. The outer walls of the arena support next to no weight at all. Incorporating an unusual elliptical design by Matthew Nowicki, of the North Carolina State University Department of Architecture, the arena was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 11, 1973. Originally named the "State Fair Arena", it was dedicated to Dr. J. S. Dorton, former North Carolina State Fair manager, in 1961.It is currently the home of the Carolina Rollergirls (WFTDA). In the past, it has served as the home of numerous sports teams. The longest serving tenant was the Raleigh IceCaps (ECHL) ice hockey team from 1991 - 1998. The American Basketball Association's Carolina Cougars also played some games there from 1969 - 74.
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J.S. Dorton Arena Reviews
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  • We went to the Raleigh Greek Festival at the arena. The space was very large with lots of table seating to eat all the great food. Thete was a stage for Greek music and dancing and lots of great food....  more »
  • The Dorton Arena is home to many different performances, especially during State Fair time. It is iconic for its architectural design.  more »
  • Dorton arena is the focal point of the NC state fairgrounds. The building's architecture is reminiscent of the '60s and makes you think of The Jetsons!  more »
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  • Went here for a gun show. It was SUPER hot in the building! The heat must have been running even though it was pleasant outside. The facilities are usually pretty good. I've been here a few times before. The problem is the parking lots aren't clearly marked and it was a madhouse when we were trying to get out of the place.
  • Great place to experience live music at The State Fair and great memories of amazing wrestling action from years ago...Can still hear the echoes of Ric Flair's "whoooos" from inside the walls. Also, great events at Dixie Deer Classic.
  • I haven't checked out the acustics of the building yet so I can't tell ya what a concert there would be like, but I can tell ya it's an old building which usually means bad acustics!
  • Long known for it's iconic design, it was built in 1952 and designed by the architecture students at NC State University School of Architecture, and located on the fairgrounds at Blue Ridge Rd and close to I-440, this building is the site of may events. I attended the Chinese New Year Celebration in February 2017, see photo. They will rent the building for events and there have been many like boat shows, entertainers and more.
  • It’s old but it’s still a nice place

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Where to stay in Raleigh

Staying downtown provides the most convenient access to Raleigh's leading attractions. You'll find a couple of large, efficient hotels here--they feature a large volume of beds. The area around the North Campus of North Carolina State University lies just west of downtown and features a handful of additional hotels. A cluster of national chain hotels and motels lies in the midtown area north of downtown. There are a couple of bus lines that provide easy access to downtown from here, so this area serves as a suitable option if you cannot find accommodation in the city center. The intersection of I-440 and Route 70 to the northwest of downtown features numerous hotels and motels, but these largely cater to business travelers who require convenient access to both downtown and the airport.
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