Tailgating Tar Heel Style

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina has struggled throughout the years to establish a centralized tailgating experience for its fan base. On Monday, UNC and the Chapel Hill community may have solved the riddle with the announcement of Tar Heel Downtown planned for Oct. 17.

Larry Fedora arrived at UNC intent on changing the culture surrounding the football program and promoting game day excitement and enthusiasm.

Various obstacles have factored into the lack of pregame festivities prior to kickoff over the years. The main reason usually brought up is the lack of a central tailgating location on campus.

Although the newly located Tar Heel Town is obviously an attempt to promote attendance around the stadium, the allure of Franklin Street deters many from spending their time there.

Monday's announcement brings those two destinations together for UNC's Thursday night showdown with Miami in front of a national audience on ESPN.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt announced the plans at 140 West Plaza with noticeable excitement. UNC, the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and the Town of Chapel Hill are working together to create the optimal game day experience.

Franklin Street will be blocked off from Columbia Street to Mallette Street for the festivities. Among the various events scheduled to take place will be a pregame show and live broadcast at 140 West Plaza prior to kickoff.

"We do get a lot of national attention from the storied athletic programs at the University, but as a UNC alumnus and as Mayor of this great town, this particular event makes me particularly excited because this time I'm going to be inviting all of my fellow Tar Heel fans across the region to come out and help us put on a great show for millions of viewers from across the country who will be joining us right here on our doorstep in downtown Chapel Hill," Kleinschmidt said.

Excitement undoubtedly surrounds an attempt to change the image attached to the town and cultivate an enjoyable game day atmosphere in Chapel Hill. The community group expects as many as 10,000 to attend the Tar Heel Downtown event, which will be headlined by Liquid Pleasure and other acts on a temporary stage.

"Carolina football game days are an opportunity for our community to come together and celebrate all that makes this town and this University so special," UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said. "Tar Heel Downtown will offer our students, alumni and fans a wonderful game day experience stretching all the way from Franklin Street to Kenan Stadium."

North Carolina's game against Miami will mark the second Thursday night home game in school history. UNC lost its first midweek hosting opportunity to Florida State, 30-27, in 2009.


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