The Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance (GRSA) exceeded annual sales goals, finishing the fiscal year with 113 assisted definite bookings. In total, the 113 bookings represent a projected 147,000+ hotel room-nights and more than $101 million projected in direct economic impact (visitor spending) in Wake County.
NHL Stadium Series™
GRSA played a major role supporting the NHL, Carolina Hurricanes and North Carolina State University (NCSU) with planning and hosting the 2023 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series in Raleigh. The Stadium Series game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals was played in front of a capacity crowd of nearly 57,000 at Carter-Finley Stadium. The NHL’s 37th outdoor game marked the fastest sellout ever for an NHL outdoor game and saw record-breaking numbers in terms of TV ratings, merchandise sales and social media engagement. The Stadium Series game generated $13.6 million in total economic impact, while the full NHL Stadium Series weekend—which consisted of the Hurricanes’ home game against the Canadiens on Thursday, Hurricanes FanFest presented by UNC Health and the Hootie & the Blowfish concert on Friday, the Stadium Series game and Truly Hard Seltzer NHL PreGame official fan festival on Saturday and the men’s basketball game between UNC and NCSU on Sunday—generated $20.1 million in total economic impact.
Best Sports Host City
SportsTravel magazine named Raleigh “America’s Best Sports Host City” for 2022. The award was voted on by sports planners from across the nation. This prestigious award is a testament to the partnerships and teamwork in place throughout this destination. GRSA's 2022-2023 fiscal year was monumental with a variety of major events hosted in Greater Raleigh, including the NHL Stadium Series, Epic Games' Fortnite Championship Series Invitational, The Soccer Tournament, multiple NCAA and ACC Championships and many more. Facility development continues to be a priority as a top sports host community, with a variety of Wake County sports venue enhancement projects underway, including: PNC Arena, USA Baseball National Training Complex (Cary) and Church Street Park (Morrisville). New facilities in the pipeline include the Cary indoor multi-sport complex and Swing Racquet + Paddle in Raleigh.
Events in the Raleigh area
Worked with local partners in hosting, supporting and servicing major events held throughout the year. Some of the highlights include:
- North Carolina FC (NCFC) Youth’s visitRaleigh.com Showcase Series
- USA Baseball National Team Championships, National Team Identification Series Champions Cups, Futures Invitationals, National High School Invitational and USA Baseball/MLB Prospect Development Pipeline
- Atlantic Tire Tennis Championships
- John Wall Holiday Invitational
- N.C. LaxFest
- MAPL Raleigh (Volleyball)
- City of Oaks Volleyball Challenge
- Swimming: USA Swimming ESSZ Senior Sectionals, ESSZ Age Group Sectionals and Futures Championship, NCISAA State Championships, TITANS Long Course Closeout, N.C. Senior Games, TITANS Big Southern Classic, YMCA of the Triangle Area Capital Classic, Speedo Blizzard Blitz, N.C. Masters Short-Course Championship, Speedo Triangle Classic
- The Carolina Cup (gymnastics)
- BODYARMOR Winter State Games of N.C.
- Deep South Classic
- HoopSeen Carolina Jam
- Phenom Hoops Live
- Senior Softball-USA Atlantic Coast Championships
- Oak City Swing Softball Tournament
- USA Lacrosse National Tournament
- IWLCA Southeast Cup (lacrosse)
- Multiple N.C. High School Athletic Association state championships
In partnership with local organizations and venues, GRSA helped secure key future events, including:
- 2023 North America Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship Qualifier (Raleigh Convention Center)
- 2023 ITA Women’s All-American Championship (Cary Tennis Park)
- 2023 Major League Cricket’s Inaugural Tour Series (Church Street Cricket Pitch, Morrisville)
- 2024 PDGA Tim Selinske U.S. Masters Championships (multiple disc golf courses)
- 2024 EsportsTravel Summit (Raleigh Convention Center)
- 2025 Conference Carolinas Men’s and Women’s Swimming Championships (Triangle Aquatic Center)
Collegiate events hosted
The area’s stellar reputation for hosting collegiate-level events continued this past year. NCAA Championship events held during the past year included: Women’s College Cup, Men’s College Cup, Women’s Lacrosse, Women's Tennis First/Second Rounds and Super Regional, Division I Women’s Golf Regional and the Division II Baseball Championship. ACC Champions were crowned in: Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Wrestling, Men’s and Women’s Tennis and Outdoor Track & Field and Rowing. Additional events included: adidas XC Challenge, SailPack Intercollegiate Regattas, ITA All-American Women's Championships (tennis), SAS Championship HBCU Invitational, USA South Athletic Conference College Swim Championship, Grand Slam Triangle Classic (softball), Triangle Collegiate Classic (volleyball), Women's Match Play Invitational (golf), Stitch Intercollegiate (golf), MEAC Men's and Women's Tennis Championships and the Lake Wheeler Rowing Invitational.
The Greater Raleigh Esports Local Organizing Committee (GRELOC) continues to grow the area’s reputation for esports, including hosting major gaming events—a key recommendation of Wake County's Destination Strategic Plan. Greater Raleigh has emerged as a vibrant and thriving hub for the world of esports, cementing its reputation as a top destination for competitive gaming enthusiasts. With its dynamic community and world-class venues, the destination has become a hotbed for esports events, attracting players, teams and spectators from around the globe. Epic Games' Fortnite Championship Series Invitational and Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty League Major I closed out the 2022 calendar year at the Raleigh Convention Center. In April, PNC Arena hosted the LCS (League Championship Series) Spring Finals with Riot Games. The focus remains on demonstrating Wake County’s capabilities by hosting a diverse roster of game genres.
Championship soccer dominated the GRSA calendar in 2022-2023. NCFC Youth’s visitRaleigh.com Showcase Series continued as the largest annual youth sporting event in the region: 1,400+ soccer teams, generating 32,600 hotel room-nights and more than $27 million in direct economic impact. Cary became the first city ever to host both the NCAA Women’s and Men’s College Cups consecutively on back-to-back weekends, and both events were huge successes. A brand-new 7v7 event, The Soccer Tournament, was held at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary in June. It was an unforgettable experience for those in attendance and watching around the world. The inaugural tournament saw 32 talented teams (from seven countries) battle it out for a winner-takes-all prize of $1 million. More than 30,000 tickets were sold for the event, and an encore presentation of the championship game was shown on NBC.
Worked with local partners in hosting, supporting and servicing events featuring emerging and non-traditional sports, including:
- USA Ultimate TCT Pro Championships
- SAS Championship HBCU Golf Invitational
- SailPack Women's Intercollegiate Regatta
- United Futsal Eastern Conference Finals
- Toyota Minor League Cricket Championship
- PVA Wheelchair Rugby Invitational
- Lake Wheeler Rowing Invitational
- ACC Rowing Championship
- Butterfly Cary Cup Table Tennis Tournament
- USA Fencing Raleigh SJCC and Division II North American Cup
- Old North State Classic Wheelchair Basketball
Industry involvement and tradeshows and conferences attended
GRSA remained heavily involved with the N.C. Sports Association (NCSA) as sports sales manager Jocelyn O’Sullivan served on the NCSA board of directors, associate director Jason Philbeck, STS, served on the Board Development Committee and executive director Scott Dupree served as chair of the N.C. Sports Leadership Council. Director Tori Collins served as co-chair of the GRELOC.
GRSA represented Raleigh and Wake County at the following meetings, tradeshows and conferences:
- TEAMS Conference and Expo
- U.S. Olympic Committee Sportslink
- Connect Sports Marketplace
- US Sports Congress
- American Baseball Coaches Association Convention
- United Soccer Coaches Convention/US Youth Soccer Workshop
- USA Lacrosse National Convention
- NCAA Annual Convention
- Sports ETA Symposium
- NCSA meetings
- WISE meetings
- N.C. Sports Leadership Council meetings
- GRSA Advisory Board meetings
- Simpleview Summit
Photos: Header/NCAA DII Baseball, NCAA Women's Lacrosse and The Soccer Tournament, Alyson Boyer Rode; Hurricanes FanFest presented by UNC Health, Garrett Poulos; Six Major Raleigh/esports photo, Subnation