Cameron Indoor Stadium and the Dean E. Smith Center are monumental buildings, hosting a sport that is ingrained in the cultures of its schools.
Students who attend North Carolina or Duke are expected to be basketball fans. Those who aren’t are compelled to become one.
Each presents an atmosphere unlike any other arena. Students can feel their passion for their school intensify when they walk into their arena to the bright lights and blaring music, looking around at the many championship banners and retired numbers that adorn their interior.
While both stadiums are historic, they're vastly different venues that make watching UNC and Duke games a unique experience.
Cameron Indoor, which opened in 1940, is much smaller than the Smith Center, fitting a maximum of 9,314 spectators inside of it. However, it's easily one of the most electrifying settings in college basketball.
Its students, famously known as the Cameron Crazies, pack into the stands, ready to cheer on their Blue Devil team. The size of the arena makes the crowd noise resonate, making it difficult for any opposing team to communicate. The volume level at Cameron Indoor Stadium has been known to go over 120 decibels, louder than a jet takeoff (at 305 meters) and most rock concerts.
Deafening noise aside, the architecture of the stadium is also impressive. Its wooden bleachers and gothic design give it a time-honored aesthetic, yet it doesn't feel outdated. On the outside, it's visually stunning, but does not stand out from the rest of the campus. In fact, it blends in, making it similar to a high school gym.
The Smith Center, on the other hand, which opened in 1986, makes itself known on North Carolina’s campus with its massive exterior. Its spherical shape is very simple with a white roof that allows light to travel through.
It’s what’s on the inside that makes the place special, though. Generally speaking, the decor is much more modern, despite being filled with images of former teams and players to celebrate the team’s rich history.
Its capacity exceeds both Cameron Indoor and UNC’s former home, Carmichael Arena, seating well over 21,000 people. It's the fourth-largest college basketball arena in the nation.
As a result, the Smith Center depends more on numbers to create a loud enough noise to intimidate their opponents. Of course, for big rivalry games such as those against Duke, it's always completely full, and can get as loud as any venue in college basketball despite its reputation for having a "wine and cheese crowd."
Despite their differences, opposing teams are aware that if they travel to Chapel Hill or Durham, they'll play in hostile environments.
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