Local News

Chapel Hill in a Gridiron Lockdown

Posted November 8, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Fans waited all year for the University of North Carolina versus Florida State University showdown. The stage was set for a major ACC battle, and rumor has it the UNC football team traveled by bus to Kenan Stadium completely focused on playing, without uttering a word. After losing 20 to 3, they were probably quiet on the way home, too.

But earlier in the evening, with tickets in hand and tailgate parties in full swing, fans worked themselves into a frenzy in Chapel Hill. Tar Heel fan David Bumgardner said the talgate parties helped everyone get into the mood.

Some people, such as Ed Nelson, drove for hundreds of miles in hopes of buying a ticket at the last minute. Nelson says he came with just a little sign proclaiming his need for one ticket.

For those unable to get into Kenan Stadium for the game itself, Franklin Street was the place to be. Fans there lined up for bar stools and booths.

After months of waiting and anticipation, the big game came and went pretty quickly. The rivalry between UNC and FSU goes back a long way, but this year the coveted prize was a shot at the national championship.

The teams first met on the gridiron in 1983. Florida State leads the series with seven wins and one tie, but it's the first time both teams have come into the game ranked in the top five. UNC has never been able to score more than 18 points a game against the Seminoles.

Elsewhere in the Triangle, helping to keep traffic at a frustrating pace, North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central also played at home Saturday. On Interstate-40, many fans spent some time hitting the brakes and waiting in traffic.

Those who couldn't get tickets to the FSU-UNC game, still went out to celebrate and watch the game, and where else would a true Tarheel fan go to watch the gam but Franklin street? Nightspot managers said they were well stocked with extra food and beverages for the frenzied fans.

While UNC and FSU are rivals on the playing field, some students from both schools united for a common cause. The students wore anti-Nike signs and passed out flyers questioning Nike's labor practices outside the stadium.

Many athletes at both schools are outfitted in Nike apparel.

The protesting students are trying to raise awareness about Nike apparel and claims that it's made in overseas sweatshops.