Skip Navigation


N.C. State Fair Division

J.S. Dorton Arena

Dorton Arena

** For questions about building rentals please contact Claudine Davis, 919-821-7400.


The J.S. Dorton Arena was built to serve agriculture, industry, commerce and the general welfare of North Carolina. It has earned an international reputation since its construction in 1951. The innovative design was created by the late Matthew Nowicki while head of the Department of Architecture at North Carolina State University. Professor Nowicki was killed in an airplane accident shortly after being commissioned as the architect. His personal friend, Wm. Henley Deitrick of Raleigh, was named to the project.

The building is 300 feet in diameter, elliptic in shape, with a central concrete floor 221 feet long and 127 feet wide at the widest point of the ellipse. There are 4,750 permanent seats, 360 box seats and 2,500 portable seats that can be installed when a stage is used. Seating capacity when used with a stage is 7,610.

The metal roof, suspended on a network of cables, which extend crosswise from the 90-foot parabolic arches, is saddle-shaped. The 14-foot wide arches reach a maximum height of 90 feet. They cross each other at about 26 feet above the ground, then extend into a tunnel below the surface at the east and west ends. The weights of the roof is equalized by tension cables, with 14 two-inch strands connecting each end of the parabola through the stress tunnel. The roof, so suspended, eliminates any necessity for structural steel supports and presents no view obstructions from any seat. The exterior walls are constructed of translucent heat and glare-reducing glass above the lobby levels and of heat-absorbing transparent glass on the lobby levels. The two lobbies are on the ground level. The arena floor provides 25,000 square feet. Restrooms, dressing rooms and storage areas are also available.

In 1972, Dorton Arena was named a National Historic Monument. In 2002, the building celebrated 50 years of serving Raleigh.

N.C. State Fair, G. Kent Yelverton, Manager
Mailing Address: 1010 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1010
Physical Address: 1025 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh NC 27607
Phone: (919) 821-7400; FAX: (919) 733-5079

How can we make this page better for you?
Contact the NCDA&CS

Found a bug? Have a suggestion? Fill out the form below and we'll take a look!

Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Question or Comments:

Back to top

Get Email Alerts

Stay up to date with NCDA&CS. Sign up to receive the latest news and upcoming events via email.