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It’s a familiar sight in most college towns during football season — and Chapel Hill is no exception.

Lindsey Sanders, a UNC alumna, said she tailgates with family and friends near the Friday Center where their ever-expanding tailgating group includes about three generations of Tar Heels who grill and watch television on a big-screen.

“It’s fun because I get to hang out with people I don’t necessarily sit with at the game,” Sanders said.

In its eight page policy on campus tailgates, the University asks fans to avoid consuming alcohol and limits tents to being ten feet by ten feet.

Local bars and restaurants benefit from the University’s low-key approach to tailgates.

Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery draws families, students, alumni and even opposing team fans on game days, said manager Jeff Wardwell.

TOPO employees support the University on game days by wearing Carolina Blue and putting up flags around the restaurant.

For earlier games the restaurant opens its doors as early as 10 a.m. Wardwell said UNC fans flow in and out of the restaurant.

With a so-called “backyard atmosphere,” He’s Not Here attracts fans ranging from eight-month-olds to 80-year-olds with live music, specials on blue cups and corn hole games, said general manager Fleming Fuller.

Fuller said He’s Not, one of the oldest bars in Chapel Hill, values the alumni who support the University and the businesses around Chapel Hill.

“I think tailgating is beneficial because, first and foremost, it stimulates the economy by bringing money into Chapel Hill,” he said.

Groups of non-residents spent about $200 per day during the Miami football game during the 2013-14 academic year, according to an economic impact analysis by the UNC Sports Administration graduate program.

Fuller said He’s Not also attracts opposing fans.

“The only fans we ever have issue with are (North Carolina) State fans and ECU fans,” he said. “They never fight. They just tend to be a little more boastful.”

The Greek community also offers its own take on game day, with many fraternity houses hosting their own tailgates.

Senior Chi Psi member and business major Demetri Harakas said the Chi Psi lodge — located on Cameron Street — uses the large yard on the side of their fraternity house for tailgates where friends, family and alumni gather for music and an outdoor cookout.

“I enjoy being outside and look forward to attending games with the company of my friends,” he said. “Tailgating is a good way to show school spirit and to get into game mode.”

Aside from fraternity houses, many students throw tailgates in their own front yards. Senior business major Michael Lee said when he throws tailgate parties in his yard, the focus is more on food and close friends.

“To me, a tailgate is a very special event in the sense that it’s inviting to all,” he said.

“A well-done tailgate can lead to a better game in terms of viewing experience and level of game day hype.”

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The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for February 5, 2024

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