The UNC Department of Athletics is offering fans a virtual spot in the stands of Kenan Memorial Stadium this season in an attempt to keep them engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tar Heel fans can purchase $50 cutouts of themselves that will be in the stands of Kenan Memorial for the 2020 season. Fans can buy a cutout for $75 with an assistant coach’s signature or for $150 with head coach Mack Brown’s signature. After the final game, fans can pick up their cutout to keep for themselves.
The athletics department is not allowing attendance at home events until at least October, so the Kenan Memorial cutouts will fill the stands for now.
“I think the best thing about this idea is just that fans can still show their support and that we can still include fans on game day even though they can’t be inside the stadium,” Neal Franzer, director of marketing for UNC athletics, said.
Franzer and the athletic department are optimistic that fans will be receptive and generate enough excitement about the cutouts to potentially have them featured at other UNC venues.
Many fans, including UNC graduate and Tar Heel fan Sam Sugg, have expressed interest in the cutouts.
“I think it’s a good idea because it’s just a way to engage the fans," Sugg said. "Fans are really looking for something that feels like they can support the team.”
Sugg and several of his friends are getting creative with the idea by incorporating it into a practical, light-hearted joke.
“One of my friends had an idea to put friends of his who were Duke and (N.C.) State fans on the cutout, so they had to watch Carolina win this year,” Sugg said. “I think people should do it and have fun with it.”
Julie Lovelace, a UNC graduate, echoed Sugg’s sentiments.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Lovelace said. “I think it would show how much people support them. For all of us watching the game on TV, it’d be fun to see peoples’ cutouts in the stadium.”
Although fans are excited about the Kenan cutouts and other ways to engage virtually on game day, some fans like Don Curtis, who hasn’t missed a home game since 1959, are hoping they’ll be able to return to the stands this season.
“(I’m) still hoping that by the time we get to October, there will be some accommodation for a limited capacity to attend the games,” he said in an email.
The cutout process has gone smoothly so far in large part due to the athletic department’s partnership with Be At The Game, a company that specializes in making cardboard cutouts for stadiums.
While the planning process around the Kenan cutouts has gone well and fans have expressed interest in them, Franzer and the marketing department do not plan to stop searching for new ways to keep fans engaged — even if they can’t be in the stadium.
“There’s a whole bunch of other things that we’ll be doing on social media and through our website and through our GoHeels app. There will be a lot more to come for sure,” Franzer said. “We’re going to put out (information) pretty soon about all the different things we’re going to do on game days and game weeks to include fans.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.