ACC Championship: Things to know if you’re headed to the Clemson-UNC game

Clemson mascot "The Tiger" and UNC mascot "Rameses" surprise third graders at Sedgefield Elementery School on Friday.
Clemson mascot "The Tiger" and UNC mascot "Rameses" surprise third graders at Sedgefield Elementery School on Friday. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Saturday’s sold-out ACC Championship football game between No. 1 Clemson and No. 8 UNC will pack tens of thousands of visitors into uptown Charlotte from morning to late night.

A morning ACC Fan 5K and Kids Mascot Run officially kicks off the festivities. And a pregame fan festival will run from noon to 7 p.m. at South Mint and North Graham streets near Bank of America Stadium.

If you plan to attend the game and its festivities, here are things you’ll want to know:

1. Kickoff: 8 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium.

2. Tickets: Sold out. Clemson clinched early, so their fans had a headstart buying tickets and are expected to fill the bulk of the 73,000 seats.

3. Where to watch the game on TV: The game will be televised nationally on ABC. But if you want to watch with other fans, popular spots include bars in Brevard Court uptown, the WFNZ Dog House on Morehead Street and South End bars such as All-American Pub and Gin Mill.

4. Bring a coat: The temperature at kickoff is forecast to be a cool 47 degrees under clear skies and then fall into the low 40s by 10 p.m., said John Tomko, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greer, S.C.

Saturday’s high should reach 58 degrees between 3 and 4 p.m. under sunny skies.

5. It has been declared an extraordinary event: That means police have the authority to search people around the stadium and in nearby parking lots popular with tailgaters.

6. The party started Friday night with the ACC Football Fan Central at the EpiCentre with a battle of the Atlantic Division and Coastal Division pep bands. The event also featured ACC mascots, a DJ and a live performance by 20 Ride.

7. Get to uptown early for the ACC FanFest: The free pregame festival is noon to 7 p.m. Saturday at South Mint and North Graham streets near the stadium. The event will feature team mascots, games, autograph signings and performances by award-winning country music artists Dustin Lynch and Tyler Farr.

8. Don’t forget about the ACC Fan 5K & Kids Mascot Run. The race Saturday morning serves as the official kickoff of the Championship Day festivities. Proceeds benefit the United Way of Central Carolinas.

Children ages 3 through 9 are invited to run with the ACC’s 14 football mascots. Each child will receive a T-shirt and have breakfast with the mascots after the Kids Mascot Run. Race-day registration, packet pick-up and chip pick-up will be from 7 to 7:45 a.m. Saturday.

9. Post-race party. That party is scheduled at Wells Fargo Plaza on South Tryon Street between East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Third Street.

10. Prepare for street closures: Saturday morning’s ACC Fan 5K & Kids Mascot Run will travel down South Tryon Street from Wells Fargo Plaza (310 S. Tryon near East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) to West Boulevard. Several side streets on the loop back to the finish line at Wells Fargo Plaza also may close with detours posted.

Since the game has been declared an extraordinary event, any other street closures will be at the discretion of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, said Linda Durrett, spokeswoman for the Charlotte Department of Transportation.

Durrett warned that traffic will be a challenge because of the sold-out game and parking uptown will be extremely limited. Adding to the congestion: “Piano Man” Billy Joel is performing Saturday evening at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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