Good move by Carolina to get rid of those silver seats.
Slowly but surely, the UNC athletic department is taking care of healing some open sores with its antiquated facilities. Most of the Olympic sports are getting new fields and courts and tracks to match baseball, while Smith Center upgrades look a lot better from the concourse to inside the arena.
Now, the biggest blight is being corrected for both cosmetic and practical purposes. UNC is reducing the capacity of 92-year-old Kenan Stadium to 51,000 by replacing the silver benches with individual blue chair backs and arm rests that will be 22 inches wide and more comfortable for the fans lucky enough to sit in them. Goodbye, silver bleachers. Finally.
In a stadium that rarely has a hard sellout, the silver seats were a bad a look on TV and in person. Bad for viewers watching the game, bad for fans looking across the field at them and bad for recruits, who like to play in stadiums that sell out, not ones that glaringly advertise they don’t.
Reducing the capacity is also a dose of reality in an era when colleges and pro teams are more concerned than ever about selling tickets and the fan experience of those who buy them. The two sections that had the blue seats installed last season as an experiment got great reviews, and Bubba Cunningham decided to face lift the entire stadium.
Tickets will cost more as $6 each is being added to help pay for the new seats and their installment. But, at the same time, Carolina is bettering the supply-and-demand ratio, and fans have something new to help them consider buying or renewing their season football tickets. And more urgency to get their butts into contoured seats rather than sitting on those cold, hard benches and go home with a back ache.
It doesn’t guarantee a sold-out stadium, although this should help boost season tickets for next year. The team has to be better to help that process, but it shouldn’t be hard to beat a 3-9 season, so there must be optimism in the air. Right?
The empty Blue Zone seats are not a great look when hundreds of fans are inside the club levels watching on TV. But at least they are blue, not shimmering silver that gave Kenan a cold, high school look. Now, even the empty seats on both sides will be part of turning it blue, rather than blaring out no one is home.