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Students, Alumni Square Off In 'Seat' Debate At Dean Smith Center

Posted January 31, 2000

— The traffic will be heavy on Rams Club Drive outside the Dean Smith Center on Thursday night. While some fans hope the Tar Heels beat the Duke Blue Devils, there is a bit of contention between Carolina supporters.

Last week, the winter blast that paralyzed the Triangle created a lot of no-shows at UNC's win over Maryland in the Dean Smith Center, which gave students courtside seats for the first time ever. Now, students want a permanent move to the floor.

Tee Pruitt, president of the student-runCarolina Athletic Association, says in three days, he has received e-mails from over 400 people supporting the effort.

"Students can help create that awesome crowd advantage for every home game," Pruitt said. "The sixth man, so to speak."

"There has got to be a better way to balance the seating and get the students next to the floor," Pruitt said.

The courtside seats are not cheap. Most belong to donors who paid $50,000 to $100,000 to help build the Dean Smith Center. Those donors make a minimum annual contribution of $1,500.

"You couldn't build a facility without providing a opportunity for people to purchase some seats," said Moyer Smith, president of Rams Club.

"I haven't had anybody, who has the seats that we would all like to have, say that I am willing to give up my seats," Smith said. Students who were in the seats say the great "seat" debate will continue long after the game is over. -->

Any kind of shift in the seating arrangement is going to require some legal maneuvering. Students from the Carolina Athletic Association say they will hold a rally before Thursday's game against Duke.


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