Chapel Hill will be in the national spotlight on Thursday, Oct. 17, when Carolina’s football team will play the Miami Hurricanes in Kenan Stadium, an ESPN broadcast event with live, national coverage.
“ESPN coverage will bring millions of viewers to our doorstep,” said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt. “This is a unique opportunity to showcase our downtown as one of the best in the nation.”
Downtown will be buzzing with activity before kickoff with the Tar Heel Downtown family-friendly event from 4 to 7 p.m. Before most football games, Tar Heel Town is on campus next to Kenan Stadium. But with such an opportunity to highlight the University and downtown to the world, the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, UNC Athletics and the Town of Chapel Hill have partnered to host the event on West Franklin Street from Columbia to Mallette streets, centered at the 140 West Plaza.
“We believe this is a great opportunity to bring 10,000-plus alumni, fans and families off campus and on to Franklin Street on a crisp, fall evening to shop and eat – and enjoy what our downtown has to offer,” said Downtown Partnership Executive Director Meg McGurk.
UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham said, “Carolina Football Game Days are an opportunity for our community to come together and celebrate all that makes this Town and this University so special. Tar Heel Downtown will offer our students, alumni and fans a wonderful game day experience stretching all the way from Franklin Street to Kenan Stadium.”
An economic impact study from 2008 estimated the total economic impact of a home football game day on the Chapel Hill and Orange County economy at about $6.3 million.
At the event, there will be live broadcast of the Countdown to Kickoff Radio Show on Franklin Street. A stage will feature performances by the band Liquid Pleasure, Carolina Cheerleaders and the Marching Tar Heels – with an appearance by Rameses. Family-friendly activities will include bounce houses and face painting. The Rams Club and UNC Athletics will provide Carolina giveaways.
As it is uncommon to hold a downtown event on a weekday evening, there are logistics to be aware of:
- West Franklin Street will be closed from 4 to 7 p.m. from Columbia to Mallette streets.
- FREE game day parking will be available at University Square. Fans and patrons should arrive prior to 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 to access this free parking. Special thanks to Chapel Hill Foundation Real Estate Holdings Inc. – University Square for its contributions to this public event.
- Multiple locations downtown will be available for parking.
- Tar Heel Express shuttles from the Friday Center and University Mall park and rides will make stops downtown from 4pm-6:30pm. Tar Heel Express shuttles will operate between the Southern Village, Jones Ferry, Friday Center and University Mall park and rides and Kenan Stadium beginning at 6:30 p.m. ($5 round trip).
- Chapel Hill Transit will reroute the F and J bus routes along Rosemary Street between East Main Street and South Columbia from 4 to 7 p.m.
- Portable Restrooms will be provided for event-goers.
- UNC’s fall break starts the day before on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Participants who use social media at Tar Heel Downtown are encouraged to tag their tweets #TarHeelDowntown.