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UNC considered opening Dean Dome before postponement

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Gary Allen - Gary Allen
Pedestrians and cars make their way towards the Dean Dome (background) for the UNC men's basketball game.

Update: UNC-Duke game has been postponed.

They’ve not decided yet, but UNC Chapel Hill athletics officials are considering opening up the Dean E. Smith Center to anyone who can make it to the 9 p.m. college basketball game between rivals North Carolina and Duke if expected snow and ice keep ticket-holders home.

“Right now, we don’t have any inclement weather, so it’s hard to know how many people will come to the game,” UNC sports information director Steve Kirschner said 11 a.m. “That decision will be made later on, closer to game time.”

Yet there is precedent for such a move. Officials did open up the Dean Dome to anyone in 1994 and 2000 – both times against Maryland.

During both those games, fans were allowed in and seated in upper sections of the arena. After the first TV time-out, they were invited to move closer to the court in seats not taken by ticket-holders, Kirschner said.

“We didn’t want to dislodge anybody from seats who had tickets,” he said.

Chapel Hill is predicted to get two to four inches of snow today and another inch of snow and ice tonight.

Kirschner said the weather won’t stop the game. The Atlantic Coast Conference requires a game to be played if the two teams and referees can safely get to the arena.

The ACC have told UNC officials they have officials lined up for the game, “and Duke has said they’ll be here,” Kirschner said. “So we’ve got a game.”

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