Despite some problems, 49ers football fans are getting there

| September 10, 2013 | 7 Comments
Part of the student section emptied out by the fourth quarter during the Chowan game Saturday, Sept. 7. Attendance at the game did reach over 16,000. Photo by Patrick Bogans

Part of the student section emptied out by the fourth quarter during the Chowan game Saturday, Sept. 7. Attendance at the game did reach over 16,000. Photo by Patrick Bogans

Despite the 49ers dominating first win, many students did not request all the available student tickets for the Chowan game and some have left the stadium early during both games. Is this a cause for concern, or just growing pains?

It is easy to have a negative mindset about UNC Charlotte, even as a student. A disappointment here, a slight mishap there: it’s become too easy to criticize the way things are done around the university.

And the biggest cause for conversation and controversy this year at UNC Charlotte has been football.

Since the inaugural football game, many complaints or grievances with either the Charlotte Athletics department or with fellow students are a little naïve. These first two games have been a lively start for the team, and a reason for celebration for students, alumni and Charlotte area fans.

On Aug. 31, Charlotte 49ers football made headlines across the state, and even across the nation after dominating the Campbell Camels 52-7. And after pummeling the Chowan Hawks by a score of 47-7 this past Saturday, the Charlotte 49ers football team once again has shown they might be a force to be reckoned with.

However, off the field, controversy over the student lottery, Niner Nation Gold points and student ticket priority sparked. Other smaller nuisances have been brought up, ranging from WCCB’s television coverage of the inaugural game, to student attendance, to in-game graphics, sound and other problems.

It’s easy to talk, but it’s hard to actually take a minute to step back from initial disappointment and see that this is the first season for the team. Mistakes will be made, but they will also be learned from.

As various sports teams across the area have not been extremely successful the past few years, Charlotte area sports fans tend to fall into the “fair-weather fan” classification.

Niners fans, at least for the first game, seem to stick around when the weather is right and the game is gritty.

Many students left during halftime of the first game ever for the 49ers football team. When students began leaving the first ever Charlotte 49ers football game, needless to say, it was a disappointment. But the more I spoke to my peers about it throughout the week following the game, the more I understood why some fans left.

The brief downpour, the humid atmosphere and the huge lead by the 49ers made it easy for students to decide to leave the game early. And it didn’t help that many of them were intoxicated from tailgating.

The game against Chowan was a little better with students sticking around, thanks to more cloud cover and more tolerable weather conditions. Still, many students (particularly students who were seated at the end zone of the field) left once halftime arrived again for this game.

I was fine. I had not and still have not participated in any tailgating activities. I had a plentiful breakfast, a nice Sprite and a hat to prevent most of the sun radiating down on me.

How no students really stick around the university longer than is necessary began to seep into my mind when I saw part of the student section empty. The simple fact is the students just didn’t want to feel sick after the glorious amounts of beer and hot dogs they had consumed right before hand.

It would have been nice to see students stick around until the fourth quarter timer struck 0:00, but devotion on that level will not end up happening until the 49ers actually have to fight hard to win up until the very end.

Despite the fan departures, initial turnout for each game has been fantastic. Jerry Richardson Stadium holds 15,314 occupants, and for the first game against the Campbell Camels, 16,630 fans showed up to Jerry Richardson Stadium. And to my surprise, a comparable number of 16,598 fans came for Saturday’s game against Chowan.

Student tickets for the Chowan game did not go to lottery like the inaugural game. After the 52-7 blowout, my hopes were high for students to request all, if not more than all of the 7,500 student tickets available for the game, despite it being the second game of the first season and not the historical first one.

With the exception of the Campbell game, the request period for student tickets begins the Sunday before the game at 8 a.m. and ends Tuesday at 8 a.m.

At the end of the claim period on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 8 a.m., only around 4,000 of the 7,500 student tickets had been claimed. In a university of over 25,000 students, only 4,000 requested tickets.

The request period may not be evident or embedded in students’ brains yet, as the only reminder for the open request period comes through Charlotte 49ers social media accounts and other UNC Charlotte related pages that help spread the word.

The amount of tickets requested began to turn around as the week went along. According to Charlotte Observer’s David Scott, about 7,000 of the 7,500 available student tickets had been taken by Friday afternoon.

My initial disappointment had curtailed. Students may not have initially requested tickets, but they eventually claimed their ticket once word hit that the tickets would be on sale to the general public on Thursday. But the fact remains that our student body is more than three times as large as student tickets available and we could not get enough ticket requests to cause a lottery for the second game of our inaugural season.

But recent graduates and other alumni, as well as 49er fans in the area undoubtedly snatched the remaining 500 or so tickets. The attendance for the Chowan game may have dipped down by 32, but devoted Niners (whether they were students or not) were still present for the Chowan game.

And the Chowan game ran much smoother than the inaugural game. Charlotte 49ers Athletics found a fix for many problems they encountered during the Campbell game.

The speaker system projected music and play-by-play announcements louder and clearer. Also, calls made from the officials were audible, leaving less confusion for attendees.

There were less awkward breaks in between plays and timeouts. Replays were impeccably shown after every play. New graphics were introduced on the Jumbotron during the game, as well as a crowd spotlight segment made popular at Charlotte 49ers basketball games.

Outside of the more technical side of things, the entire 49ers crowd had a successful wave at the beginning of the second quarter. And in that moment, it was evident how devoted this crowd was to show their support. Well, at least until halftime.

It’s important to keep in mind that every aspect of Charlotte 49ers football is still growing. Just like the men who take the field every Saturday, the university has to practice, get used to a routine and get acquainted with the new atmosphere.

The Charlotte 49ers fans are loud, excited and proud of their football team despite the little hiccups that may occur along the way.

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Patrick Bogans Patrick is a former Community Editor and A&E editor for the Niner Times. He is pursuing a Communications major with minors in Film Studies and Journalism at UNC Charlotte. Contact him at


Comments (7)

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  1. Randy Mabry says:

    Thanks for the article Patrick. I too have been disappointed with the nearly empty stadium after half-time. So much was said about seniors and other students not getting to participate in the lottery, yet both games revealed a mass exodus after haltime and most leaving were students. As an alumni I have been watching the games on WCCB – thank you WCCB for airing them. Getting tickets is almost impossible, particularly for a good price. Maybe the university should cut the student allotment in half and offer the other half to the players families and to the Alumni association. I’m sure there are plenty of Alumni that would road trip for a game during the first season. Many alumni are locals too! :)

  2. Mark Brooks says:

    You twice mentioned intoxication in your article. As most traditional aged students are underage, that should not be a problem. Intoxication and football should not be associated together as you have in this article. Perhaps the UNCC police department needs to monitor the situation better, then you will not have that as an excuse for students leaving so early. Much work has gone into the production of a football team for UNCC. You do not need to imitate this negative aspect of attending a football game that is associated with other schools.

  3. Trevor Blakely says:

    Mark Brooks… I’m sorry, but you must be heavily sheltered from life if you think underage students are not going to drink at a football game on a Saturday afternoon. Better yet, that the police can do much of anything about it! Please. It’s college. Students are here to have a good time and they will do it no matter how much people like you think they shouldn’t. Charlotte’s campus police/parking/head of greek life/etc does enough to rain on the parade of the students here. I’m not saying it’s right, but what do you expect? Every student to be breathalyzed before entering the gates? Lets be realistic. Drinking happens and it will continue to happen.

  4. George Dunlap says:

    I thought that all was well. Heck there is not anyone drinking that I know ……. Hahahahsha

  5. Tom Kerr says:

    In my view, the reason attendance at the Chowan game suffered was because of the ticket lottery debacle surrounding the inaugural game against Campbell. Many students, including myself, felt disenfranchised by an athletic program that built a 7,500 seat student section knowing that two thirds of the student body wouldn’t be able to get tickets. I considered boycotting the entire affair, but decided instead to watch the game from the student union movie theatre. WCCB’s coverage of the game was atrocious. I did a better job recording football games at my old high school from atop the press box with a hand-held camcorder than did their entire “professional” staff that day.

    Last week, when I was able to get a ticket, it was the design of the stadium that diminished my enjoyment of the game. Shaped like a bowl, the stadium’s white concrete and steel benches reflect the sun’s rays, turning Jerry Richardson stadium into a solar powered oven. Not helping matters is the fact that the student section directly faces the scorching mid-afternoon sun.

    Yes, I stayed for the duration of the Chowan game and, yes, I will stay for the duration of the NC Central game. Why, you ask? Because I’m 25, and I can sneak in as much booze as is necessary to make watching a blowout enjoyable.

  6. Mark Brooks says:

    Trevor….I’m sure I have more ‘life experience’ than you, since you sound like a college student without a fully-developed brain from you lack of logic expressed in your post. Instead of just expecting people to act like idiots, some of us high a higher expectation of people. Grow up and contribute something positive to society instead of just being a jerk.

  7. Micah Fuller says:

    As an alumni, (and former 49er Times Sports Editor) I was absolutely stunned to see how quickly the student section cleared out right after halftime.

    These students profess to want to have a big time college experience, but yet leave when your team is down after just the 3rd home game? What message does that send to the team? “We love you, until you start losing.” Nice 49er student – fans. Maybe they had to catch the Texas A&M – Alabama game.

    You think the “12th man” deserts their team when they are having a bad day? You all have a lot to learn.

    The athletic department and the university have spent millioins of dollars in building this program. UNC Charlotte has the best AD in the nation, and THIS is how you show your undying love for the Green and Gold?

    If nothing more, make it a social affair students, get some sun, listen to the band, watch the cheerleaders, listen to your I-Pod, BUT STAY!

    Matt Johnson had a bad day, but you know what, that kid dove head first to get to the end zone with :06 on the clock in a game that was already decided. Imagine when he turns to the stands and all he sees is the other team’s fans….

    49er students….here’s a piece of advice from an alumnus who on many Saturday’s longed for a piece of a “real college experiences”, DON’T BE A FAIR WEATHERED FAN.

    If you want to do that, go to Panther games, otherwise stay in your dorm and do some studying, at least then you will make yourself useful.

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Patrick Bogans Patrick is a former Community Editor and A&E editor for the Niner Times. He is pursuing a Communications major with minors in Film Studies and Journalism at UNC Charlotte. Contact him at