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Friday Food for Thought: Bleachers vs. Seats

Are the seat renovations in Kenan Stadium for the better?

Western Carolina v North Carolina Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Welcome to Friday Food For Thought, the weekend conversation starter. Each week, this article presents a topic for debate. Whether in the comments section, on the golf course, or around the weekend game table, the goal is to provide enough background that either side could be a winner. In order to facilitate the discourse, a suggested beverage pairing is also included. So speak up, mix it up, and drink up.

We are now a little less than a month from the home opener against the University of Central Florida. When the Knights come to town, it will serve as the official unveiling of the newly renovated Kenan Stadium. Notable among the changes is the move from bleachers to individual seats.

The issue for today is whether this is a change for the better or for the worse. Are you looking forward to watching games in the current model or do you miss the previous version?

1. Point

Bleachers are for high schools. They are hot when the sun bakes the stadium in mid-afternoon. They are incredibly uncomfortable. They are crowded and difficult to walk by. Good riddance.

The new individual seats provide a much more comfortable opportunity to watch a game. Everyone will now have their own space that comes complete with arched back support. Moreover, the seats fold up so that getting down the rows will be remarkably easier.

Another note: no more need to carry in a stadium seat. This will make security lines move faster and make attendance at the game easier as one more item is removed from the checklist.

Finally, the reduction in seating capacity is long overdue. It is not good for the school, the team, or the program’s development to see huge swaths of empty seats on a beautiful fall afternoon. Even with a decent-sized crowd, the bleachers prevented the stadium from looking full in all but a few rare circumstances. This is definitely a situation where less is more.

2. Counterpoint

There are several downsides to removing the bleachers. First, there is a sense of community that comes from crowding a group of rowdy fans into a tightly-cramped space. A spirit of energy arises from being close to friends while cheering on the Heels.

Second, the noise that the bleachers made was unforgettable. I am not talking about the hollow clang that occurred when someone struck the seat with a dropped set of keys. This is about the late game situations where everyone rises and pounds on the bleachers to create a metallic thunder in the stadium. It was an echoing roar that will not be duplicated with seat backs.

Finally, the seating capacity will be reduced by a whopping 12,000. There may be a concern that the stadium was previously difficult to fill, but that just made for cheaper tickets to late season games. This argument also ignores the truth that Tar Heel fans are, at heart, optimists. We look forward to the win streaks and the improbable runs toward conference titles. We dream about the sold-out stadium filled with throngs of fans.

In many ways, reducing the capacity feels like admitting defeat and conceding that the program will not be successful enough to fill a larger venue. That hurts.

Drink Pairing

In need of encouragement to debate – I have started picking up a bottle of the Four Roses Small Batch when traveling for vacation or other special events. It provides a nice treat for the taste buds that is smooth with an easy finish.

Can debate without assistance It’s summer. Focus on hydration and drink some water. Actually, the most tasty bet is to cut up on fresh cucumber and add to a two-quart container of water. Refrigerate for at least an hour. The infused flavor is delicious and refreshing.