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 building is ideal for concerts, trade shows, athletic events, circuses, speakers, graduations and more. The suspended roof eliminates any necessity for structural steel supports and presents no view obstructions from any seat. The exterior walls are constructed of tinted, glare-reducing glass. 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 and was named a National Architectural and National Civil Engineering Monument.  Click here for more history of Dorton Arena. 


exterior of Dorton Arena
At a Glance  
Square Feet 25,000
Seats 5,000 permanent or
7,500 w/ portable seats
Amenities available Support services
Concessions stand 
Dressing rooms
Storage areas
Rental rate $2,900 per day; discounted rate for access other than on event days


Building Amenities:

  • Completed in 1952, renovated in 1979, 1996, 2002 and 2015. This facility includes handicap ramp access from lobbies to the main arena floor and is mechanically heated, but is not air conditioned. Floor fans are available to assist with air circulation.
  • Seating capacity: 5,000 permanent seats (7,500 with portable seats used with stage)
  • Shape: elliptic (see building arena floorplan)
                              (see building lobby floorplan)
  • Square footage: 25,000 arena floor
  • 300 ft in diameter and concrete floor is 221 feet long and 127 ft wide at widest point
  • Ideal venue for trade shows, athletic events, circuses, speakers, proms and other special events
  • Energy-conservation rate (ECR) available for access days other than event dates.
  • Support services, such as staging, tables, electrical hookups, etc., are available for an extra fee
  • Restrooms, dressing rooms and storage areas are available
  • This building offers mechanically generated heat, but is not air-conditioned. Floor fans are available.
sailboats in Dorton Arena
Trade Show Set Up 
Cheerleading competition in Dorton Arena
Cheer Competition