Fans camp out for spots at Chapel Hill bars to watch UNC take on Gonzaga

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNNC) — Tonight is the big game and UNC has a shot at redemption as they try to win their sixth men’s NCAA Tournament National Championship.

UNC takes on Gonzaga tonight in Phoenix.

On Sunday, UNC students and fans were trying everything they could to lock down seats in bars and restaurants along Franklin Street for tonight’s NCAA Championship.


Chairs sat empty throughout Chapel Hill, but employees knew Monday night would be a different story.

“We’re already booked,” said Alissa Casetellon.

Castellon is a bartender at Might as Well on Franklin Street. Sunday she spent most of the day prepping for the crowds coming for the NCAA Championship game. She said she knows they will be busy.

“Even a week before, people were trying to call ahead,” she said.

Chris Cowden and his friends were able to lock down a reservation for the game, but he said he had to pull a few strings with his friends who manage bars and restaurants. Cowden said if you don’t have a reservation at this point, you’re probably not getting one.

“There are more students than seats,” he said.

And that statement couldn’t be truer than at He’s Not Here.

Hundreds lined up outside of the bar at the chance at watching the game there.

“I hope, hope, hope they can fit us all in there,” said Julie Dale.

Unfortunately for Dale, she was at the very end of the line. At the front Shelby Rawlins and Abby Perez already locked their wristbands to get in, but it took some dedication.

“From like 2’oclock to 6:15,” said Rawlins

“It’s been about four hours. It’s worth it though,” said Perez.

Four hours waiting for a spot at the bar, and that doesn’t even compare to the line at Top of the Hill.

“We know what it’s like to sleep on the streets and we’re willing,” said Elli Woodward.

Woodward was at the front of the line at Topo. She was planning to wait in line until around 11 a.m. Monday for a ticket to watch the game, but management at the restaurant put up a sign at 1 a.m. saying all tickets had been distributed.

Woodward wasn’t the only one waiting for tickets.

The line stretched from the Columbia Street side of Topo around to the Franklin Street side. Students waited through the whole night, studying, playing board games and sleeping in the chilly April temperatures.

But they all said it’s worth it to see their Tar Heels win a championship.

Ellie Cross arrived on UNC’s campus at 3 a.m. after riding eight hours on a bus from Athens, Georgia. Cross said she needed to be with her siblings to watch UNC play for the National Championship.

“It’s just makes the experience that much more special. And I am with my siblings. We grew up together watching UNC basketball so I can’t imagine anyone else I would rather watch it with in Sup Dogs,” she said.

Cross’s brother agreed.

“We didn’t want to watch in an apartment or anything like that. We wanted to make sure that get the Franklin [Street] experience. You are out here with the possibility of potentially rushing that brings all of the excitement with it,” he said.

If you don’t want to watch the game on Franklin Street, fans can go to the Smith Center for a title watch party.

The viewing party is open to the public with doors opening at 8 p.m. The doors will open for students and faculty starting at 7:30 p.m.

Parking will be available for $5.

CBS North Carolina is the only place that fans can watch our “Road to the Championship” UNC special, as well as the Capital One Championship Central pregame show, and of course, the 2017 NCAA Basketball Tournament National Championship. Make sure to tune it CBS North Carolina beginning at 7 p.m.

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