CHAPEL HILL — College football fans in Western North Carolina are excited about a move that puts theNorth Carolina/N.C. Statefootball game in Charlotte. However, merchants in Chapel Hill are very disappointed with the University's agreement to play the game out of town for the next two seasons.
Most retailers say the Christmas season rings in the biggest sales, but for Chapel Hill the biggest sales days are on big game days.
With theWolfpackandTar Heelsheaded for an Ericsson Stadium showdown Saturday, the chairperson of the Downtown Business Commission fired off a letter toUNC athletics director Dick Baddour.
"We did send a response to Mr. Baddour, and we told him we're not happy with this," business owner Kathleen Lord said. "We told him that we hope in the future they will consider the economic impact that this has on our town."
While the big game is on Saturday this year, next year it will fall on Thursday night to satisfy theACC'scontract withESPN.
The UNC athletics department says it does not want to put the squeeze on local businesses. They say it is a simple matter of logistics. A Thursday night basketball game forces the town to accommodate 20,000 people. Thursday night football pushes that number to 60,000.
"Usually we work together really well," business owner Chris Belcher said. "Chapel Hillians and the school get along really good. It's usually a win-win situation, so it's a little disappointing when they cut us out."
Before the game even starts this weekend, some people in Chapel Hill are chalking it up as a loss.
Baddour says he will try to keep an open ear to the merchants' concerns in the future.