‘It’s pretty weird’: UNC football plays without fans amid COVID-19

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s was no-fan Saturday at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan Memorial Stadium as the football team played to empty seats amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the outside of the stadium,  it almost sounded like a regular game day with music playing and the sound of the referee’s whistles, but it was not the same.

As he walked by the locked stadium gates, student Troy Curtin said, “It’s pretty weird.”

Instead, Curtin and his friends planned on just watching the game on TV and make  the best of it. 

Viewing the game electronically is the only alternative for women’s basketball team member Anya Poole who wants to support her friends on football team.

“We have to watch it through the TV,” she said. “It’s still kind of cool we are supporting them even though we can’t actually be in the stadium. They know  we’re supporting them and that’s what really matters.”

For others, just the fact there’s a game is satisfying enough.

“I know we are wanting to get back to where we could have fans in the stadium, but I’m just glad they’re playing,” said fan Jim Nitz, whose daughter is an alumnus. 

At Sup Dogs restaurant on Franklin Street,  the socially distanced regulated crowds were attracted by the game on the many widescreen TVs all over the walls.

“If there was tailgating going on and people going to the games,  I think we would be even busier and making it more of an event,” said owner Brett Oliverio.  “I think it would be busy either way,  but it doesn’t have the same feel  as last year.”

And just how does it “feel” to students who are watching it in the restaurant? 

“It’s really weird,” said Drew Bergeron. “I wish we could all be there right now but we’re still getting after it.”

Student Marty Weatherspoon also misses stadium games.

“There’s  definitely a loss of excitement,” he said. “We’re trying to tailgate and have fun and stuff. It can’t happen but we’re making the best of it.”

And for the time being this is the way football will be in Chapel Hill.

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