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Fans take advantage of public sale of ACC tickets

Duke and UNC fans were quick to take advantage when the size of the Georgia Dome and sluggish ticket sales prompted the ACC to make tickets for its men’s basketball tournament available to the public for the first time since the 1960s.

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ATLANTA — The UNC Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils were prepping to take to the hardwood Friday, and their fans were taking advantage of the first public sale of tickets to Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament since the 1960s.

Ticket sales have been sluggish, perhaps due to the recession, and some seats went empty during the opening round Thursday.

“We were able to get better tickets because, I think, not as many people are buying them,” said David Hutzenbuhler, who purchased tickets through the North Carolina State University Wolfpack Club. "In past years, we'd buy through brokers and had to pay a lot more."

Although seats in the upper level can sometimes require binoculars, the Slagle family said they didn’t mind the view. For them, attending the tournament was the upside to the down economy.

“I grew up in North Carolina and I’m a big Tar Heel fan,” Joel Slagle said. “You can’t get tickets to watch a normal, regular season game; they are just not available.”

"We have two boys, (ages) 15 and 17, and one is a big North Carolina fan, and the other loves Duke. They've already got the games slated off so they're set in stone," Kim Slagle said.

Ticket-sellers also have had to contend with the size of the Georgia Dome. With 36,000 seats, the NFL stadium is much larger than most ACC tournament venues.

"This is such a big place. I don't like it. It's so big," UNC fan Kelly Misenheimer said.

Some fans who bought their tickets early said they wished they had waited for a better bargain.

"I believe we paid a lot for our tickets that probably the folks here did not have to pay," ACC fan Lynn Rotanz said.

On Friday, top-seeded Carolina plays Virginia Tech at noon, and third-seeded Duke plays Boston College around 9:30 p.m. Second-seed Wake Forest faces off against Maryland at 7 p.m., and Florida State plays Georgia Tech at 3 p.m.

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Ken Smith, Reporter
Stacy Davis, Reporter
Mark Simpson, Photographer
John Cox, Photographer
Kathy Hanrahan, Web Editor
Anne Johnson, Web Editor

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