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Life on Campus at NC State: October 2023

Life on Campus at NC State: October 2023
What's happening around NC State? Bill takes a deep dive so you can stay informed. NCSU campus construction, Old Tuffy's retirement, and more.

The last campus update I posted was a lengthy write-up back in August about the future of PNC Arena. Since then, State has been off to another eventful football season where you're really not sure what you're going to get from week to week. It was around the time of the season when we scored 13 points combined across two full ACC games when I turned some of my attention back to off-the-field NCSU-related news.

David Thompson to be Honored with Statue at Reynolds Coliseum:

NCSU will honor former MBB player and all-time great David Thompson at 11:30 am on Wednesday 12/6 with a statue that is to be placed outside Reynolds Coliseum. The annual MBB Heritage Game will take place at Reynolds that evening at 7 pm against...* checks notes *...something called Maryland Eastern Shore (I still think it would be a good move to play 2-3 of the non-conference games over winter break against opponents like this at Reynolds).

The NCSU Coaches Corner adjacent to Reynolds' front entrance, and beside Talley Student Union, already features statues of Kay Yow, Everett Case, Norm Sloan, and Jim Valvano. These statues were unveiled back in 2016.

The below Tweet from Jeff Gravley indicates that the David Thompson statue will be on the opposite corner across from the parking lot and the Coliseum Parking Deck:

NCSU's Integrative Sciences Building Breaks Ground:

Back in August, NC State broke ground on the new five-floor Integrative Sciences Building ("ISB") in the Brickyard on main campus. The ISB will be 153k sqft large and will cost approximately $180M.

This building will be located where Harrelson Hall once stood, but construction of the ISB isn't expected to be completed until late 2026. NCSU has a live stream of the construction site on YouTube:

While it will be great to see a new building added to main campus for the first time since 2009, the Brickyard has seen a pretty consistent wave of construction over the last 10-15 years with large-scale renovations to both the Atrium and DH Hill Jr. Library.

This link includes a story from NCSU's Tim Peeler about the ISB's construction process & timeline, but there are also other campus construction projects mentioned in this story that were funded by the NC General Assembly as part of NCSU's newest Physical Master Plan (summary video linked here), including:

  • Replacement of the original bricks installed in the Brickyard with a new permeable brick surface to help address stormwater management issues; 
  • Page Hall $15M Renovation;
  • 111 Lampe Drive $42M Renovation;
  • Mann Hall $36M Renovation;
  • Polk Hall $73M Renovation;
  • Dabney Hall $60M Renovation (Dabney & Cox Halls hold the distinction of being my least favorite looking buildings on campus by far);
  • College of Veterinary Medicine $120M addition to the large-animal hospital;
  • Plans for an additional engineering building on Centennial Campus to grow the number of engineering students enrolled at NCSU; and
  • An upgrade to the University's underground electrical distribution system dubbed "Power Forward".

These projects are expected to be in process over the next 5-7 years.

New Belgium's Old Tuffy Retires, R&D Brewing's "Riviera" Launches:

Anyone who knows me would say that I was a huge Old Tuffy fan. My wife and I may have had a wall of Old Tuffy cans set up as a welcome drink for those who attended our wedding (I promise that it was actually her idea).

The beer itself was fine, but the can art was perfect. Whether it was the original red/white can - or the updated black can that was introduced in 2022 - using the throwback strutting Tuffy logo was a great idea. The can stood out amongst all the other options in beer aisles, and with State partnering with a large distributor in New Belgium, you could readily find Old Tuffy in cans/on draft across the Triangle and you could also purchase merchandise.

Old Tuffy was first rolled out at the start of what ended up being an abysmal 2019 football season. In the years that followed, State had a fully COVID-impacted 2020 season attendance-wise, a partially COVID-impacted 2021 season attendance-wise, and then finally a relatively normal 2022 season (other than being forced into playing 4 QB's). Largely because of that whole COVID thing, I doubt the in-stadium sales measured up to what NCSU & New Belgium were expecting over this period.

However, at the start of the 2023 season, NCSU & New Belgium made the announcement that Old Tuffy had been abruptly retired. To replace Old Tuffy, NCSU and R&D Brewing announced that a co-branded Riviera Mexican Lager would be released. The beer is the same as R&D's previously existing Riviera, but with the co-branded NCSU offering, the can color was changed from yellow to red & a Tuffy head logo was added to the can. It's definitely a clean look, but it isn't very distinct IMO.

I generally don't think NC State does a very good job of messaging, marketing, or branding, but the rollout of this Riviera Mexican Lager felt particularly odd. The beer itself is again fine, people probably will like it just as much if not more than Old Tuffy, but what felt odd is:

  • Cans of the NC State-branded Riviera Mexican Lager weren't available for purchase outside of Carter-Finley until mid-October and halfway through the 2023 football/tailgate season;
  • An Old Tuffy banner that features the 2023 NCSU football schedule has been seen hanging in every grocery store near campus since August;
  • NC State's bookstore sent out an email in late August announcing that a new run of Old Tuffy merchandise had hit their shelves just days before all of that merchandise was moved to the clearance rack; and
  • Every other beer that R&D Brewing has co-branded with a team or university has a distinct name and can design (i.e., the Durham Bull's Bull Durham Beer, the Carolina Hurricanes' Storm Brew, ECU's Pirate Brew, App State's Mountain Brew, and Wake Forest's Deacon Brew). The NC State co-branded Riviera is the exception and feels like an afterthought by comparison.
2023 Old Tuffy banners that are still all over grocery stores in West Raleigh

I don't know who dropped the ball on the transition between New Belgium's Old Tuffy and R&D's Riviera, but the rollout has been anything but smooth considering you had to wait until 10/28 to even drink it at a Carter-Finley tailgate. If State was going to opt for a local brewery to produce its beer and move away from New Belgium, I also wish they'd gone with a brewer that didn't already mass-produce beer for 2 other professional teams and 3 other collegiate teams in North Carolina. This entire deal has just felt uninspired and bland.

Maybe sometime in the future, the Wolfpack Brewing Lab will have enough brewing/canning capacity for State to bring production of an NCSU-branded beer totally in-house.

NCSU Rises in US News Rankings:

NC State was placed 28th overall among the top public universities in the country by U.S. News on the publication's "2024 Best Colleges list". This was good for 60th overall when taking into account private universities. The article from NCSU linked above indicates that State has jumped a total of 32 spots on this list since 2017.

These rankings are full of inherent biases, questionable data, and confusing metrics, but they undoubtedly influence the public perception of a university for donors, as well as prospective students (and likely more importantly - their parents).

Under Armour's Founder, CEO Visit NCSU:

Under Armour announced last year that they would be opening an "Innovation Center" on NCSU's Centennial Campus so that Under Armour employees could work alongside NCSU researchers. More recently, both the company's founder and CEO visited NC State to tour the new facility alongside NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson and Vice Chancellor Kevin Howell.

Given that NC State's apparel deal with Adidas was apparently extended last year with virtually no details made public, I wouldn't be surprised if State has something in the works down the road to eventually partner with Under Armour in athletics.

PNC Arena Announces New Food and Beverage Options:

PNC Arena announced prior to the start of the Carolina Hurricanes' 2023 season that three local concepts would be opening spaces and carts in the concourse area: "The BBQ Lab", "Gonza Tacos y Tequila", and "The Optimist" (coffee). These should add something extra to the food/beverage experience at NC State MBB games as well once that season gets underway.

Two Roosters Ice Cream also later announced that they would be taking over a concessions stall at PNC, as well as a "satellite ice cream station" in the concourse on PNC's first floor.  Their first day open at the Arena will be 11/7. For those unfamiliar with Two Roosters, its founder - Jared Plummer - is a 2x grad of NCSU.

These new additions will be joining existing brands in the concourse like Blue Bell ice cream, Buena Papa Fry Bar, Buffalo Brothers Pizza & Wing Co., Chick-fil-A (expansion), Happy + Hale, the Nutty Bavarian, PDQ, Primo Hoagies, Shake Shack, North Carolina BBQ, Sausage Stop, and Raising the Steak.

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Other News:

Tom Dundon to Purchase, Renovate, and Add Sportsbook to Backyard Bistro by PNC/Carter-Finley

321 Coffee Opens on Centennial Campus

Hillsborough Street / Blue Ridge Rd Construction Continues

"Stonewall's Tavern" Opens on Hillsborough Street (website here)

New Art Plaza "Reds and Whites" Coming to Centennial Campus

NCSU Receives $40M in Defense Funding for Semiconductors

Carter-Finley Stadium Enhancements for 2023 Season

NCSU WBB Reynolds Coliseum Locker-Room Renovations Complete:

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Go Pack.