The North Carolina football program is no stranger to less-than-capacity home crowds – but new plans for the stadium could change that.
In February, Kenan Memorial Stadium will undergo renovations and decrease its capacity from 63,000 to about 51,000 seats by replacing the gray bleachers with blue seats with chair backs everywhere except the student section. This change was made experimentally in Sections 110 and 111 during the 2017 season and feedback was "overwhelmingly positive," according to a press release.
“We want our fans to have the best game-day experience possible and this is a fantastic next step,’’ athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing those Carolina blue seats filled – and we’ll continue looking at every area of game day to see how we can improve even more.”
During a dismal 3-9 season, an average of 50,071 fans attended each home game. That was the second lowest total attendance under head coach Larry Fedora, ranking just below the 2015 Coastal Division Championship season, when the per-game average was 49,643.
Empty seats have been a sore spot for some players in the past. In 2015, then-junior wide receiver Bug Howard tweeted out frustrations with lack of fan support after a 48-14 win over Illinois, suggesting a men’s basketball pickup game during halftime could help sell tickets.