The sale of club seats and individual suites will pay for most of the project even though they make up less than half its cost. Final approval of the project, which is expected to cost $70-85 million, by the Board of Trustees and university administration will occur when the necessary private funding is secured.
"Kenan Stadium is a campus treasure, but it was built more than 80 years ago and we have been studying plans for the last decade to modernize the facility, improve the fan experience and provide better academic support for our student-athletes," says Director of Athletics Dick Baddour. "We have to accomplish these goals in a way that the project not only pays for itself, but provides a long-term source of additional revenue for Carolina Athletics.
"The revenue from club seats and suites will help us over the next 30 years continue to fund our 28-sport program at its current competitive levels."
"This project is really about two things - giving our 800 student-athletes a great academic center and giving our athletic department a long-term financial model that works," says Chancellor Holden Thorp.
The academic center will be a 30,000 square foot facility that will triple the size of the current one that opened 23 years ago.
"Carolina offers one of the largest numbers of athletic opportunities in the ACC and we are in need of a bigger facility to provide academic counseling, support and programming," says John Blanchard, Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Student-Athlete Services.
The academic center will include classrooms, computer labs, a writing center, auditorium, individual and group tutorial/conference rooms, and offices for the academic support staff, career services, community outreach, life skills and Carolina Leadership Academy.
"UNC's exceptional academic experience is the number one reason we are able to attract so many quality players," says Anson Dorrance, a 20-time national champion who has coached two of the last three Academic All-Americas of the Year in women's soccer. "That the University is committed to providing the best in academic support and bolstering the Leadership Academy is critical to every team's success. We are first and foremost in the business of educating young people and developing leaders on and off the field and this facility is proof of that."
The strength and conditioning center will be housed at field level and will include 13,600 square feet of cardio and strength training equipment and a 40-yard track. That almost doubles the amount of space that is currently available.
"We desperately have been in need of a larger training area," says Greg Gatz, Director of Strength and Conditioning for Olympic Sports. "Every day we schedule hundreds of student-athletes from two dozen teams. The new facility will allow us to train more people at once and reduce the time they will need to work out early in the morning or later at night."
The additional seats in the end zone, named the Blue Zone, will offer 1,986 seats in the Concourse Club just a few feet from the field, 924 seats in the Upper Club/Loge on the fourth floor and 320 seats in 20 suites on the fifth floor. Combined, the project adds 3,230 seats to the stadium's capacity.
The individual suites, each of which has 16 seats, will sell for $50,000 per year. Each seat in the club levels range from $1,500 to $2,500 per season.
A new concourse in front of the Carolina Student-Athlete Center for Excellence will allow fans to move around the entire perimeter of Kenan Stadium for the first time.
"The Blue Zone seats will be closer to the action than any seats in Kenan Stadium and offer a remarkable view of the field as well as providing the amenities that fans look for in today's modern stadiums," says John Montgomery, Executive Director of the Rams Club. "The selling point of the project is that the premium seats give us a fundraising tool that helps us build the academic center and create a new revenue stream that is important to the future of Carolina Athletics."
Fans interested in purchasing seats in the Blue Zone should contact the Rams Club at (919) 843-2000 or visit NewKenan.com.
"We wanted to begin last year, but the economy just wasn't strong enough to go forward," says Baddour. "Construction costs are more favorable now than they were before, so we went back and tweaked the plans and are pleased that we have developed a financial model that will pay for the project and give us some relief in the future. Chancellor Thorp and I will present the plan to the Board of Trustees and Rams Club Executive Board of Directors for their approval when we reach funding levels that allow us to proceed. There is no timetable for that process but we will be working hard to sell the seats as soon as possible."