"We're very excited about it. Think back to last year we were playing Syracuse, and we had 25 fans so to have everybody back. But boy my goodness, we want to do it safely," said UNC Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham.
The return of fans follows a season where attendance was strictly capped because of COVID-19 protocols. Despite the more transmissible Delta variant leading to an uptick in cases and hospitalizations, Kenan Stadium is operating without capacity limitations.
"We feel pretty good. We hope that the university is taking the proper steps to guide everybody to be as safe as possible. We certainly plan to do that while we're here enjoying the game," said Austin Thomas, who attended the game with his family.
Masks were strongly encouraged, though not required at the game.
Outside the entrance to the stadium, there was a vaccination clinic offering Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson shots.
"One of the great things about the Carolina community is it's not just necessarily people on campus. We have people, I was just talking to a family over there, they've been a Carolina family for three generations. They keep coming back to game day. It's all about the Carolina Spirit and the Carolina community and being able to help get them involved in our vaccinations," said Ishan Khosla, a UNC senior who is Co-Director of the UNC Campus EMS.
Dozens of people rolled up their sleeves, including 12-year-old Bryson Vann.
"I was looking forward to it because I want to be as safe as possible," said Vann.
In exchange for getting vaccinated on-site, recipients received free tickets to a future UNC home game.
The fans went home happy as the Tar Heels blitzed Georgia State 59-17.