One of my favorite aspects of sports is the arena. Thousands of raucous fans cheering for their team gives me chills, even if it is just on TV.
Aside from last season’s Duke game, I have personally never gotten that from the Dean Dome. And that seems to be a recurring theme with former students.
“The Smith Center and Kenan Stadium usually resemble tombs more than athletic arenas,” Brian McCusky wrote in the DTH in 1987. Just a year later, another DTH writer attended a high school basketball game in the Dean Dome with only 80 percent of the lower level filled. “The enthusiasm at this game virtually doubled any I have seen at a UNC game this year, including the N.C. State game,” Keith Parsons wrote.
It is something that has clearly always been a part of the Dean Dome experience. In Carmichael Arena, North Carolina went from being one of the most intimidating crowds to their crowd being called a “cheese and wine crowd” by opposing players.
You don’t hear those types of comments at other stadiums. It happens at the Dean Dome because it gets under the fans’ skin.
The smaller size of Carmichael Arena gave it an advantage, but the students were also seated next to the court. Moving the student section is a common argument for fans to improve the home atmosphere, but it's not feasible.
Most importantly, many in the crowd will never feel the need to stand up in moderately pressure-packed moments. So here's what UNC fans need to do: accept the fact that you have a wine and cheese crowd.
The crowds at the most intimidating arenas in the country — Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke, Allen Fieldhouse at Kansas and Assembly Hall at Indiana — all share one thing, besides smaller capacities than the Dean Dome: confidence.
They know that teams are scared to play in their arenas and they act accordingly. Meanwhile, some UNC fans are constantly defending themselves, urging people that they are not, in fact, a wine and cheese crowd.
Other schools don’t worry themselves with opinions on their crowds. They just cheer on their teams, and it creates a great atmosphere.
It’s okay, though: UNC fans can cope by remembering their program’s success. The North Carolina basketball program is one of the best in the history of college basketball, so don’t get too tied up in the argument over your home arena’s atmosphere. It's a bad look.
Just focus on the product on the floor, because that’s all that really matters when it comes to winning championships.
So, just accept that UNC has a wine and cheese crowd and move on. Maybe one day that will change, but not anytime soon.
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