Town ready for big game

Sep. 14, 2013 @ 10:09 AM

Town officials have firmed up plans to capitalize on the national televised game between UNC and Miami next month.
With the national spotlight shining brightly on Chapel Hill on Oct. 17, officials believe it’s the perfect time to showcase what they consider one of the nation’s best downtowns.
So, with ESPN in town to televise the Thursday night ACC matchup and millions of viewers watching, town officials are working to ensure the pregame focus is squarely on downtown.
To help make it happen, the popular Tar Heel Town is being moved from near Kenan Stadium to West Franklin Street, which will be closed from Columbia to Mallette streets from 4 p.m., to 7 p.m., on game day.
Officials hope the move will draw thousands of alumni and families off campus and on to Franklin Street, which will be already bustling on game day with fans having dinner and shopping.
Then, throw in ESPN.
“It’s kind of like a perfect storm with all of these things happening,” said Meg McGurk, executive director of the Downtown Partnership. “It’s a great opportunity have everything downtown.”
The event is being sponsored by the Partnership, the town and   UNC athletics.
“Tar Heel Downtown is yet another great event happening in Chapel Hill due to an unprecedented level of cooperation in town-gown relations,” Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said at a news conference last week to announce the event.
It will feature the Countdown to Kickoff Radio Show, which will be broadcast from the event, performances by the band Liquid Pleasure, Carolina cheerleaders and UNC’s marching band.
Ramses, the Tar Heel mascot, will also make an appearance.
Meanwhile, family activities will include bounce houses and face painting, and there will be giveaways from the Rams Club and Carolina Athletics.    
“Carolina Football Games Days are an opportunity for our community to come together and celebrate all that makes this town and this university special,” Cunningham said in a news release accompanying the announcement last week.
A 2008 economic impact study estimated the total impact of a home football game at about $6.3 million for Chapel Hill and Orange County.
“Economically, home football games are a huge boost to our downtown community,” McGurk said.