Fans may have been turned away had Friday’s game between crosstown rivals Heritage and Wake Forest had been held at any other high school venue.
Luckily, it was at Wake Forest’s Trentini Stadium, which was once home Wake Forest University before the Demon Deacons moved to Winston-Salem. Its concrete stands are built into the sides of long, grassy slopes and hold about 9,000 fans by themselves.
There were no seats left by the time the two high schools – ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the state at the time – kicked off Friday.
Wake Forest defeated Heritage 38-14, ending the regular season 11-0 while Heritage ended 10-1.
Wake Forest athletic director Mike Joyner estimated attendance as around 9,000-10,000 fans.
“Just no way to know how many were there that had passes,” he said Monday.
There are booster club passes, season passes, in-season athlete passes, press passes, WCPSS employee passes and more.
He said the school sold about 7,500 tickets at $7 each. That would net the school at least $52,500 before concession sales.
The school’s parking deck was nearly full an hour before kickoff. Minutes before kickoff, cars were still parking a mile down Stadium Drive next to the Capital Boulevard intersection.
Those who didn’t get a seat in the stands lined the top rows of the stadium or found spots on the grassy banks.
Wake Forest coach Reggie Lucas, an alumnus from when the school was known as Wake Forest-Rolesville, couldn’t believe his eyes at halftime when he looked around.
“I got to sit back and reflect and look, and I hope there’s an aerial picture, or someone got a picture of both sides,” Lucas said. “As anyone will tell you, if we had a turf field and could keep this field looking great all year, you could play the state championship here and it’d be a great atmosphere.”
Getting about 10,000 fans for a regular-season high school football game doesn’t compare to a home ACC football or men’s basketball crowd, but it does stack up well against many other Triangle athletic events.
▪ About the same as UNC’s exhibition men’s basketball game against Barton College (10,047).
▪ About the same as the largest home crowd of the NC Courage (10,017).
▪ Slightly more than a sold-out Cameron Indoor Stadium (9,134).
▪ Slightly more than the largest home crowd for a North Carolina FC/Carolina RailHawks game (9,032).
▪ Slightly less than the Durham Bulls’ largest home crowd this season (11,897)
▪ Slightly less than the average home crowd of the Carolina Hurricanes this season (11,449).
▪ More than the capacity of two Wake County minor league baseball stadiums – Five-County Stadium in Zebulon (6,500) and Ting Park in Holly Springs (1,800) – combined.
▪ N.C. State did not list its home attendance figures from its men’s basketball exhibition game against Mars Hill, which was the same night as the Wake Forest/Heritage game.