NC State, Wake to play September games without fans

The Wolfpack and Deacons join in-state ACC rivals UNC and Duke by prohibiting fans from their home football games for at least the first month of the season

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
The stands at Carter-Finlay Stadium will be empty when NC State and Wake Forest play there on Sept. 19 (NSJ file photo)

NC State and Wake Forest have joined their fellow in-state ACC schools North Carolina and Duke by announcing that their fall sports events in the month of September will be played without fans in attendance.

The announcements were made shortly before Gov. Roy Cooper extended restrictions on public gatherings under Phase 2 of North Carolina’s coronavirus plan.

Not only will the games be played without fans in the stands, but athletic directors at both schools announced that tailgating on school property surrounding State’s Carter-Finley Stadium and Wake’s Truist Field will not be permitted.

The only games currently affected are Wake’s home opener against Clemson on Sept. 12 and the Wolfpack’s first game, against the Deacons, a week later.

“We know our fans are going to be disappointed and our players are going to be disappointed, everyone involved,” the Wolfpack’s Boo Corrigan said Tuesday during a guest appearance on the ACC Network’s “Packer and Durham Show.”

“We want the band on the field, marching out. We want the cheerleaders there and everything back to how it’s been in the past,” Corrigan continued. “But we’ve been preparing for any scenario and have been thinking through these scenarios and the decision was made. We abide by the decisions and we’re going to move forward. Hopefully, maybe sometime later this fall we’ll be able to get some people in there.”

Deacons AD John Currie also said that the no-fans policy could be revisited depending on recommendations of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

While fans won’t be allowed into the stadium for games on Wake’s campus, the school’s website continues to indicate that at least some will be able to attend the Deacons’ game against Notre Dame at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 26.

“We understand there are many variables involved in fighting the pandemic and we respect DHHS’s guidance,” Currie said in a statement. “We will miss the passion and support of Wake Forest fans in the Truist Field stands on Sept. 12, but we will continue to work to demonstrate our ability to safely host Deacon Nation for future contests.”

Even though though the stadiums at UNC, State, Duke and Wake will be empty in September, there’s still a chance it won’t sound that way.

That’s because the ACC has formally approved the use of artificial crowd noise to be permitted at its stadiums this season to help “replicate the normal gameday in-venue experience.”

“It has been approved that we can have crowd noise, so we actually pumped in crowd noise during (our) scrimmage,” UNC coach Mack Brown said in a Zoom call with the media on Monday. “It’s very disappointing to me and our players that we will not be able to have fans at our games in September.”