2017 ACC Championship: Hurricanes fans likely outnumbered, but Miami expects a loud 20,000

A panoramic view of Bank of America Stadium as the Hurricanes walk on the field on Friday before the ACC Championship in Charlotte, N.C. (Matt Porter/The Palm Beach Post)

[Photos, videos of Miami arriving in Charlotte]

[Jimbo leaves FSU: Richt, Swinney react]

[Elder: It’s us against the world]

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With Carolina Canes ambassadors Corn Elder and Greg Olsen smiling and greeting players on a sun-splashed afternoon, Miami’s introduction to Bank of America Stadium was warm.

Temperatures are supposed to fall into the low 40s by game time, and the reception might be chilly. Hurricanes fans are likely to be significantly outnumbered, with the defending national champions traveling just a short drive via I-85, but UM Athletics Director Blake James said he expects a strong showing.

“It feels like a friendly environment now,” James said. “Obviously Clemson’s got a great program and a huge following, and an easy drive to Charlotte. That said, we’ve had an incredible response from our fan base. I’m confident we’re going to see a ton of very passionate fans up here. Regardless of what the numbers are in the stadium tomorrow night, I wouldn’t be surprised if ours were the louder ones.

“There’s a lot of energy around the program. There isn’t a more passionate fan base in the country than the University of Miami.”

Clemson, less than a three-hour drive to Charlotte, is expected to draw truckloads of fans to the ACC Championship (8 p.m., ABC). Bank of America Stadium, where Elder and Olsen ply their trade with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, is smaller (75,412 seats) than Clemson’s Memorial Stadium (81,500). Reporters who cover games in Death Valley expected about 70 percent Clemson fans to show up, though it may be hard to tell with both teams wearing their own shades of orange.

UM sold all 7,500 tickets it received from the ACC, James said, and had requests from 14,000 season-ticket holders. According to TiqIQ, the cheapest available seat on the secondary market is $175, which makes ACC title game is the second-most pricey league championship game. The lowest price to get into the SEC title game, between Georgia and Auburn in Atlanta, is $481.

James said he expected 20,000 Miami fans to show up. (That would be 26.5 percent of BOA Stadium capacity, so, in the ballpark of those Clemson reporters’ projections.) Those coming from Miami had an 11-hour drive or a half-day of flying, plus connections.

Coach Mark Richt greatly appreciated the effort.

“Our fans, I’ll brag on them for a minute,” he said. “They have been phenomenal. … I’m not shocked that they’re coming in droves.

“I was thinking about them today as we were getting on the plane. You know what the sacrifice our fans are making to come to this game, flights obviously, a little more expensive than driving. Some will probably drive. There will be some flying, for sure. There will probably be some people buying some winter gear. I don’t know if everybody down there has anything to handle a cool day or a cool night.”

Richt, who has said he’s able to hear the fans at Hard Rock Stadium through the headset he wears to communicate with coaches — “that’s when I know the  crowd is really going crazy” — revealed that Miami has had to change its operation because of enthusiastic home crowds.

“We’ve had to actually go to non-verbal at home,” he said. “A couple times they’re cheering for the turnover chain, we’re on offense, we can’t hear what’s going on. We’re like, ‘Let’s go non-verbal.'”

To James, that’s just another sign that Richt has the Hurricanes in a good spot.

“Two years ago this day — the Friday of the ACC Championship weekend — is when we introduced Mark,” said James, who announced the hire on Dec. 4, 2015. “To look at what we’v been able to accomplish under his leadership in that two-year window is special. I’m looking forward to tomorrow night. It’s been a fun run to get here. We’ve taken the next step as a program.

“We couldn’t have a better person leading our program.”

2017 ACC CHAMPIONSHIP

[The story of Clemson 58, Miami 0 | Fans look back]

[Richards out for the season after new injury]

[Diaz ignores coaching carousel, thankful to be a Cane]

[Walton reportedly turning pro]

[Clemson is loaded with NFL prospects]

[Miami No. 7, Clemson No. 1 in latest CFP rank]

[Richt named ACC Coach of the Year]

[Angry Hurricanes — and coaches — might help vs. Clemson]

[Offense trying to bounce back from poor performance]

[Clemson rolling, Miami reeling entering title fight]

[One Miami player makes All-ACC, Diaz not Broyles finalist]

[Herndon out for the season]

[UM football, hoops could pull off a rare feat]

[Odds, rankings and notes entering championship week]

[Porter: Rosier must grow quickly from loss]

[5 takeaways from Miami-Pitt w/ video]

[What players, coaches said afterward]

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