Belk Bowl coaches expect big turnout from fans

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Virginia Coach Bronco Mendenhall called the Belk Bowl versus South Carolina one of the more intriguing matchups on this year's bowl slate and both schools hope that will encourage fans to turnout.

The Belk Bowl is coming off their lowest attendance numbers in the game's history when less than 33,000 fans showed up for Wake Forest's win over Texas A&M in 2017. One of the biggest crowds for the game came in 2002, when more than 73,000 fans came for Virginia's win over West Virginia.

While numbers may not reach that total, Mendenhall says Virginia's fanbase is starting to "come alive."

"We're gaining momentum, that doesn't mean gained and that doesn't mean we've arrived, but I think this game is intriguing," Mendenhall said.

While the Belk Bowl does not announce pregame ticket sales, a bowl spokesman said on Thursday the game has "eclipsed last year’s total already." This bowl game also presents a quick trip for South Carolina fans along with Charlotte being a hub for alumni.

"Passionate fan base as there is in the country and the proximity for them is going to be outstanding, we'll have a great turnout," South Carolina Coach Will Muschamp said.

Mendenhall also hopes the continued momentum being built by going to back-to-back bowl games for the first since 2004-2005 will add to the fan support.

"I think that the fanbase is coming alive, I think they're becoming passionate and I think they are starting to believe, which is moving on from hopeful," Mendenhall said.

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