Sports & Leisure
With the large reach of the Triangle area, there is plenty to do for sports and leisure. The central location elative to the rest of the state makes day trips to the Appalachian and Smoky Mountains or the coast and the Outer Banks possible.
Virginia and South Carolina are directly to the north and south, respectively, so there’s plenty to see in the surrounding areas. Locally, plenty of major and minor league sports teams, as well as college teams, call North Carolina home. Culturally, Raleigh’s title as the capital of North Carolina lends it some prestige, and many museums, exhibits and festivals can be found there year round.
With the presence of several universities in the area, and the distribution of major team leagues throughout the state, to say college sports are popular with Triangle residents is an understatement – particularly with college basketball. The UNC Tar Heels, Duke University Blue Devils and North Carolina State Wolfpack are all members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, or ACC, the regional college sports division.
Rivalries between these three schools are strong, particularly because they all play within the same division, and many of their alumni still live in the area and maintain strong ties to their alma maters. These three schools, as well as Wake Forest University, make up the four ACC schools in the state of North Carolina, and consistently produce nationally competitive teams. Each of these universities (with the exception of Wake Forest) have won at least two NCAA Basketball Championships. Though college basketball may be the most popular sport in the area, the ACC universities also compete well nationally in baseball, soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey.
The Triangle is home to one of North Carolina’s major professional sports teams. The Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League moved to Raleigh in 1997, and have since become the only major sports team in North Carolina to win a championship, with their Stanley Cup win in 2006 over the Edmonton Oilers.
The other major sports teams in North Carolina, the Charlotte Hornets (NBA) and the Carolina Panthers (NFL), are both based in Charlotte, just a couple of hours away by car.
Minor league sports also enjoy their fair share of popularity. The Durham Bulls in Durham are a AAA minor league baseball team located in Durham, and were popularized by the 1988 movie Bull Durham. The Carolina Mudcats are an A-minor league team located just 10 miles from Raleigh. The Carolina Railhawks FC of the North American Soccer League are located in Cary, and the Research Triangle has hosted the PGA Rex Hospital Open since 1994.
In addition to professional and college sports, the Triangle sports include a variety of recreational leagues for people to join in essentially every sport they can think of. Raleigh is home to one of the largest amateur league franchises for billiards in the nation, and is available for players of any skill levels to play 8 or 9 ball billiards. The Triangle is also home to one of the largest badminton playing regions in the southeastern United States, with over 1200 active players, and a dedicated Olympic training academy.