Roy Williams has been known to admonish North Carolina basketball fans when they don’t show up for games in numbers to his liking.
Saturday, though, the Hall of Fame coach was overjoyed by the sight of fans in the Smith Center stands — even though the crowd of just over 3,200 was among the smallest ever for a game at the arena.
“I tell you, it was the best 3,200 crowd I’ve ever seen in my life,” Williams said after the Tar Heels’ upset of Florida State in their first home game since Gov. Roy Cooper relaxed restrictions on attendance at public events.
“I can’t explain to them enough how much a better atmosphere it was. I’ve never lost a game because of the crowd, but today, they helped us win this game because they didn’t give up. And I was thrilled for them.”
Under new state regulations announced last week, indoor sports venues with seating for more than 5,000 are allowed to have attendance at 15% of their capacity. Outdoor venues will be allowed to seat spectators up to 30% of capacity.
Here’s a look at how some of North Carolina’s highest-profile sports entities are reacting to the change.
According to a university release, 75% of the available tickets to Saturday’s game at the 21,750-seat Smith Center were reserved for UNC students via a lottery system. The other tickets were distributed to family members of the players and coaches, health care workers from UNC hospitals and selected donors.
No tickets were available for sale to the general public.
The same process will be used for this weekend’s home game against Duke, the final game of the regular season.
Fans were also welcomed back to games involving the baseball, and men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. A limited number of tickets to additional games, along with those involving the men’s and women’s soccer teams, are scheduled to go on sale this week.
Tickets for students and the general public for regular-season field hockey and softball games, volleyball matches, gymnastics meets, and men’s and women’s tennis outdoor matches will also be sold at the site of the event, based on availability.
While approximately 500 fans were in attendance at PNC Arena for Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh, that number is expected to be increased to around 2,500 for next weekend’s regular season finale against Virginia Tech, according to athletic department spokesman Fred Demarest.
The bulk of the additional seats will go to students and Wolfpack Club donors. There will be no public sale of tickets. Because PNC also serves as the home of the Carolina Hurricanes, NHL protocols regarding face coverings — no gaiters or bandanas allowed — will be observed.
Ticket distribution for home baseball games will be similar to that of basketball, with priority given to students, families of team personnel and season ticket holders. Purchasing information will be sent out via email later this week, Demarest said.
Because of limited capacities, attendance at State’s other spring athletic venues, at least for the time being, will be restricted to team pass lists.
Despite the relaxation of attendance restrictions, Duke has chosen to continue its policy of barring all spectators, including family members of participants and the media, from its athletic events.
School officials have not yet announced plans for attendance for the Deacons’ final home basketball game of the season, Friday against Georgia Tech.
According to a release issued in response to Cooper’s announcement, Wake Forest students will receive priority for newly available seats at home baseball games. Tickets for games at Couch Ballpark are available for purchase at GoDeacs.com/Tickets.
Faculty members and staff, including Wake Forest Baptist Health employees, will continue to receive free admission to baseball games this season by showing their staff ID card at the box office. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Details regarding attendance to other Deacons athletic events will be released “in the coming days.”
The conference has announced that a limited number of tickets will be made available for public sale to both its men’s and women’s tournaments to be played at Greensboro Coliseum. Specific details regarding public tickets sales will be announced on TheACC.com.
The women’s tournament is set to begin on Wednesday, while the men’s event runs from March 9-13.
The Pirates will increase capacity restrictions on all its athletic venues beginning with Thursday’s men’s basketball game against Central Florida. It is one of two remaining home games for coach Joe Dooley’s team, which has not played since Feb. 8 because of COVID-19 issues.
According to athletic director Jon Gilbert, approximately 600 students and selected donors will be allowed to attend the games with seats grouped in two-person pods separated by a minimum distance of six feet.
Attendance for baseball games has been set at 1,200, including 150 in the “Williams Jungle” area beyond the right field wall. A portion of the tickets will be designated for ECU students and participants’ families. The rest will be assigned based on priority among last year’s season ticket holders.
Baseball is the only spring sport in which admission will be charged. There will not, however, be any single-game ticket sales to the public.
According to a release, approximately 150-200 tickets will be available to students and the public for soccer, lacrosse and softball games, while 1,000 tickets will be available for volleyball games inside Minges Coliseum.
The Hornets announced Tuesday that they will host frontline workers for their March 11 game against Detroit before welcoming back about 3,000 fans to Spectrum Center per game starting March 13 against Toronto. Single game tickets will go on sale Friday.
Team president and general manager Don Waddell announced last week that fans will be welcomed back to PNC Arena at up to 15% of capacity starting with the Hurricanes’ game against Detroit on Friday. All seats will be grouped in pods separated by a minimum distance of six feet.
Season ticket holders will have primary access to available tickets and will be informed by the team of the ticket purchasing process.