CHARLOTTE — Belk Bowl rivals Duke University and the University of Cincinnati started the competition early with a battle of the bands.
Fans from both schools cheered on the marching bands at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday. The teams' mascots and cheerleaders were also on hand to get fans ready for Thursday's game.
Fans cheered on the two bands Wednesday, as they both performed several different numbers and their school’s fight song.
"The bowl is about the football game but about a lot of other events. These kids, they have the most fun of all. The marching band members, so they're coming in. We wanted to have something for them to do," said executive director Charlotte Collegiate Football Will Webb.
Webb said about 48,000 tickets have been sold for the Belk Bowl, but he isn’t sure how many people will actually show up.
The winter storms in Ohio did not stop Mike and Joy Wright from making the drive from Springfield, Ohio. Their son plays the trombone in Cincinnati’s band.
“We left last night at nine to avoid the weather," said Joy. "We went halfway to head the storm off and came the rest of the way today. This is our first game, our first bowl game ever, so we're really excited."
Duke fans are especially excited. It is the team's first bowl game in 18 years.
"People have been talking about it for weeks. The first football game was really big and as we kept winning throughout the season and the sixth win for the clincher was just absolutely phenomenal. [It was] so much fun, the energy was so high and it's kept up throughout the semester and the year,” said Duke University student Betsy Mansfield.
The Belk Bowl game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Organizers said there is still plenty of tickets available if people want to go.