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Smith Center Seating Plans Central to CAA Campaigns

Candidates Reid Chaney and Michael Songer agree that this year's changes have improved the atmosphere in the Smith Center, but both want to add more risers under the other basket. About 200 seats would be removed by riser construction.

Unlike the current risers, the new ones would exclusively affect seats belonging to the Educational Foundation, an alumni organization that gives those who contributed to the Smith Center's construction permanent seats at men's basketball games. About 200 alumni would be displaced by the construction of new risers, three times more than were moved for the first risers.

John Cherry, Educational Foundation assistant executive vice president, said fighting for such propositions is an uphill battle. "We're going to explore every option, but it doesn't look likely," he said.

Cherry also said that asking the Educational Foundation to give up more seats is a considerable demand in light of sacrifices already made. He said the organization is covering the roughly $500,000 cost of constructing and maintaining the risers.

CAA President Tee Pruitt said additional risers seem unlikely though not impossible. "I'd give it a 10 percent chance," he said.

Chaney said he will fight for seats, though he is not optimistic. "I think the current changes have been positive and I would love to see more student seats ... but I don't want to promise, because getting (the alumni) to move will be a task."

But Songer said he is pressing ahead. "It's my number one priority. I'm fairly confident we can agree to something."

Many students adamantly support additional risers, citing this year's electric atmosphere in the Smith Center and the limited availability of tickets. "I think the alumni should suck it up and give it as a gift to Carolina basketball," said sophomore Elizabeth Gottschalk. "There are only four years that we can really call the guys our team."

Freshman Jonathan Stout said he loves having hundreds of students standing and screaming courtside.

"It pumps the players up more, and it distracts the opponents," he said. "It just brings more of a lively atmosphere to the Dean Dome."

The future of Carolina Fever's basketball seating block is even more divisive.

Songer said he wants to end Fever's claim to the 169 seats given to them each game and add them to the general student block instead. He argues that Fever members only attend Olympic sports events to earn points toward men's basketball tickets.

Chaney prefers to maintain Fever's current number of seats. "The last reductions created more competition within Fever, increasing support for the Olympic sports but still makes sure they're fairly compensated," he said.

Pruitt, who reduced the number of Fever seats from about 250 last year to 169 this year, likes the current allocation. "We've worked passionately at all this," he said. "I think our current levels are fine."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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