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November 2006
Carolina athletics buoy us all
By Chancellor James Moeser The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for The Chapel Hill Herald


The Saturday before Thanksgiving was a special one at Carolina. A morning dedication of the state-of-the-art Max C. Chapman Jr. Hall, part of our new Carolina Physical Science Complex, kicked things off. The building was made possible by the people of North Carolina through the higher education bond referendum and by the generosity of private donors -- including a $5 million donation by alumnus and former football player Max Chapman.

As the ceremony proceeded, fans were arriving on campus to cheer the football Tar Heels in their home finale, a noon match-up with archrival N.C. State. Breakfast tailgate parties abounded.

This was a difficult season for our football team and all of those who cheer for the Carolina blue. It was good to see fans arrive early to show their regard for Coach Bunting, his coaching staff and our team.

Community and unity, spirit and enthusiasm were unmistakable. And while perhaps more subtle, these attributes are evident throughout each season as this community supports the Tar Heels and our teams give back to this community.

Because they generally keep a low profile -- or try to -- many of the student-athletes' efforts may not be known to you or others in your neighborhood. I think that you will agree, they are noteworthy and just the kind of activity any of us would want to see young men and women engaging in as college students and future community leaders.

Carolina Dreams -- developed by a former member of our men's lacrosse team, David Werry -- allows student-athletes a chance to bring children being treated at the North Carolina Children's Hospital outside for a ball game or other visit to campus for some fun and fresh air. Their siblings, too, participate in events and activities.

Representatives from all our teams participate in the Get Kids in Action initiative, mentoring youngsters at area elementary schools on the merits of being active and eating right. Individual student-athletes and teams also visit local elementary school classrooms once a week to tutor, read to and play with students through the adopt-a-classroom program.

Student-athletes prepare meals at the Ronald McDonald House and collect canned food for delivery to a local food pantry. In the coming weeks, each of our 28 intercollegiate athletics teams will adopt one or more needy families as part of the Share Your Holiday program, receiving "wish lists" from the families, then shopping for, wrapping and delivering the gifts.

Their one-on-one contributions to this community are not the only benefits these students bring to Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County. Their presence and talents pack another punch: millions of dollars for the local economy. An economic impact study conducted by UNC Professor Nathan Tomasini made a conservative estimate of the economic impact of a home football game at Kenan Stadium. Using the Nov. 5, 2005, Boston College-Carolina match-up as his guide, Tomasini estimated per-game economic impact at $6.8 million, with $452,898 per game in total tax revenue for the town.

Women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, and baseball, too, are big draws, often bringing families to Chapel Hill, sometimes for more than one game and a full weekend in the area's hotels, restaurants and other attractions in between match-ups.

Of the $127.2 million left in Orange County by tourists in 2005, the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau reports that one-half of these tourists came here because of Carolina, with sports events ranked as the greatest personal connection to the university and to Chapel Hill. Using calculations developed by the National Association of Sports Councils, local tourism officials estimate that in 2004, UNC football and basketball patrons spent a combined $32.1 million per season in economic impact for Chapel Hill including meals, lodging, game tickets and other purchases.

Tourists who visit Chapel Hill for athletic contests leave dollars here that help grow the economy. And a large portion of those who come to cheer the Tar Heels have great memories of downtown and want to spend time there while in town for a game.

In an effort to encourage Carolina football fans to come downtown, Fifth Quarter Chapel Hill was launched Nov. 18. A collaboration of the athletics department, the visitors bureau, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, Chapel Hill's Downtown Partnership and the Town of Chapel Hill, this program provides expanded bus service on game days, allowing fans from park-and-ride lots to catch buses back to their cars from Franklin Street several hours after the game has concluded -- and after they've had time to dine and shop downtown.

As the name suggests, Fifth Quarter goes into overtime and local leaders, from Carolina and the greater community, want tens of thousands of fans to consider extending their game day celebration downtown or elsewhere around Chapel Hill. It will be a full season feature next fall.

So with the fall sports mostly wrapped, winter play just underway and the spring offerings still before us, come on out and cheer some of the home teams. And when you do, make time for lunch or dinner with friends.

To learn more about upcoming contests and the outreach efforts of Carolina's 28 intercollegiate athletics teams, visit

James Moeser is chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He welcomes readers’ messages at

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