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Stadium Seat Restoration

Dean Smith Center seats

Dean Dome Seats – Cleaning 30 Years of Grime

Like I said in the previous post, these seats were rescued from a construction trash bin and then sat in a garage in Charlotte for 11 years.  Oh and before that they were used for every event in the Dean Dome for 30 years.  They had a fair amount of grime on them.

Softscrub with bleach was the way to go. You can see the difference it made.  Presumably the Sharpie “X” was on there to mark which seats were supposed to be removed in the remodel.  The Softscrub didn’t touch that. I’ll have to deal with them later.

Dean Smith Center seat restoration
The line of grime was even more visible in person.
Dean Smith Center seat restoration


Of course since I was using bleach on the plastic and metal, I removed the seat covers first.  Check out the fading that went on over the years…

Dean Dome stadium seat opened
Amazing color difference.

I thought about having them recovered but I like the idea of them being the original seat covers.  And if that’s the case, into the wash on sanitize cycle – twice.

Dean Dome seat restoration
The foam in the seats was disintegrating- some of that is visible on the underside of the cloth. That’s Oxy Clean sprinkled in there and “regular” detergent was used in the cycle too.

They looked considerably better when they came out. (I didn’t get a picture.).  The gum was  still on one seat thought so I’ll have to deal with that in my next post.

I think I’m leaving the foam as is – it’s in tact throughout but around the edges it’s disintegrating.  I don’t know where to get new foam and how to cut it to the same dimensions.  I’m sure I could take it to a reupholsterer  but I’m trying to keep costs down (and I already  know I have to get some welding done).  If you have any ideas let me know (either on Facebook or in the comments).

Here’s the foam…


Overall I’m really happy with how the cleaning went. Next up is dealing with the gum on one of the cushions.

Stay tuned and Go Heels!

Dean Smith Center seats

Dean Smith Center – Seat Restoration

They were renovating one of the most famous college basketball venues ever: the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, NC (a.k.a The Dean Dome).   So many classic games have been played in the Dean Dome. So many moments. So many close games with the crowd roaring and the seats filled… if you’ve been to a game there, you’ve likely been on the edge of one.

Back in 2005, I worked on campus and I’d heard about a remodel they were doing.  Apparently they were just throwing stuff away.  Fans quickly got wind of this and were hauling souvenirs out of the dumpsters.  Their targets: the stadium seats – from which fans had watched so many historic games all the way back to when Warren Martin sunk the first-ever basket in 1986.  I’d seen all of the home games as a student. I was there on Feb. 5, 1992 – for the “Bloody Montross game“.   I greeted the 1993, 2005 and 2009 National Championship teams with their trophies there.  And that’s just the basketball.  The Smith Center had also been the place where I’d seen R.E.M., Eric Clapton, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Billy Joel… the list goes on.   And now 20 years later, I’ve even taken my kids to several games there.  There’s so much basketball — and my own personal — history there.

I went by after work to scout but I didn’t have any success.  There wasn’t anything left other than the typical construction debris.  I told myself it was just as well, I didn’t have any place for them anyway.  And by the way, you can’t even use these things as seats to begin with.  They attached directly to the concrete behind the seat (not on the floor) — they have no legs and they wouldn’t stand up by themselves.  It would just take up space in my garage anyway.  A garage that was full of other, half-complete projects as well as all of the “outside toys” that go along with two young kids.

Flash forward to 2016. My daughter just graduated high school and my son is driving.  My wife has put up with a hundred projects by now, most of which are Halloween-related or have something to do with the man cave.  (I don’t love that term, but you get the idea.)  I’d seen someone post online on a college basketball message board that they’d just fixed up a set of Dean Dome seats.   Really?  Could they they still be out there?  My interest was renewed but where was I going to get a seat? Off to eBay and Craigslist.  Here’s what I found…

As is. Two seats from the Dean Dome as they came - backs and seats only. Nothing else (except 30 plus years of grime).
As is. Two seats from the Dean Dome in the condition they were received – backs and seats only. Nothing else (except 30 plus years of grime and some chewing gum). Click for larger.

These 4 pieces have been in a garage in Charlotte for 11 years.  I drove to the far side of Charlotte and met the owner (great guy – 2006 grad and rabid fan himself).  We exchanged money for goods but then stayed around and talked Tar Heel sports for another 10-15 minutes.  He was selling these which he’d rescued on that fateful day because he’d found another set – lower level – and was ready to part with these.  We’ve actually texted and emailed over the last few days as he’s been interested to see the progress.  Me too.

Below is a set of seats that someone else has restored.  This is what I’m going for. I’ll be posting updates here; everything else will be more photo-heavy and not as wordy as above.  I just want to be able to chronicle the project in case others want to follow along or restore a set of stadium seats on their own.

Dean Smith Center stadium seats
Not mine — but this is the goal.