Carolina football plays its home games at Kenan Memorial Stadium, one of the most picturesque athletic venues in America. The Tar Heels have called Kenan Memorial Stadium home since 1927 and the thrill of playing in or attending a game there is as exhilirating now as it was when it was first constructed.
The stadium's beauty, charm and simple elegance have not been diminished with the recent expansion project that added nearly 8,000 seats, a state-of-the-art football facility, chancellor's box and preferred seating box. The renovation and expansion project, financed through a combination of private contributions through the Educational Foundation and bonded indebtedness from the athletic department through the sale of revenue-generating bonds, is in its fourth year. The Educational Foundation and its members have committed more than $43 million to the project. This summer, nearly 2,000 permanent seats were installed in the lower level of the stadium in the west end zone. That brings stadium capacity to 60,000.
Nestled among the tall pine trees near the center of the Carolina campus is Kenan Memorial Stadium. It is here in this natural valley that Tar Heel football teams have played for 68 years.
Kenan Memorial Stadium is generally regarded as one of the most beautiful football venues in the nation. Considering its majestic setting among the Carolina pines, many say it is the most beautiful.
One national sports magazine rated Kenan one of the five best places in America to watch a college football game. For scenery, atmosphere and charm, it cannot be surpassed.
The stadium has been expanded several times since its completion in 1927. In each instance, though, great care was taken to keep its fundamental beauty intact.
The latest addition to the stadium is a new playing field, installed in the spring of 1995. The new turf includes an improved drainage system beneath the field that drains through the field itself rather than off the sides of the field as in the past.
The most recent stadium expansion took place prior to 1988 and involved adding 2,000 choice seats between the 40-yard lines where the press box and chancellor's box formerly stood.
A new press box was constructed on top of the upper deck on the stadium's south side. It is a one-level elongated structure, running from 10-yard line to 10-yard line. It is one of the finest facilities of its kind in the
Also part of the project were a permanent lighting system, a chancellor's lounge on the north side of the field and a football lettermen's lounge on the south side. The lights are part of a General Electric low-mount system which minimizes the height of the lightpoles. A similar system is used at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.
Cost of the entire project was $7 million. It was funded by private gifts and bonds.
"Kenan Memorial Stadium is aesthetically a very special sports arena and a great deal of thought was given to these improvements," says Athletic Director John Swofford. "Their aim is to maintain and even enhance the beauty of the stadium."
William Rand Kenan Jr. deserves the credit for originally making the stadium a part of the University. He was born in North Carolina in 1873 and graduated from Carolina in 1894. An international industrialist, Kenan discovered carbide and made monumental progress in the field of chemistry. During his business career he was President of The Florida East Coast Railroad, The Florida East Coast Hotel Company, The West Palm Beach Water Company and the Florida East Coast Car Ferry Company.
He was a director of Florida Power and Light Company and built the first power plant in Miami in the early 1900s.
The stadium was built as a memorial to his parents, William R. Kenan and Mary Hargrave Kenan. Construction began in November 1926 and was completed the following August. Complete cost of the stadium and accompanying fieldhouse was $303,000.
Originally, the stadium was to be built through funds raised by alumni donations and by June 1926, a group of nearly 40 alumni had contributed $27,926. At this time, however, a copy of the prospectus and plan of financing the stadium came into the hands of Mr. Kenan who expressed an interest in the proposal. Kenan was considering
establishing a memorial to his parents and the pressing need for a stadium and the possibilities of the beauty, dignity and permanence it presented, suggested to him that the benefaction he contemplated may well take the form of a memorial stadium. The Stadium Committee immediately endorsed his proposal and on the very day in November 1926 on which Kenan visited the planned site, he announced his financial gift to build the stadium.
Mr. Kenan remained very interested in Kenan Memorial Stadium throughout his lifetime. In the 1950s he gave a $1,000,000 contribution to construct a second deck on the stadium. After Mr. Kenan's death in 1965 the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, which was established by his will, donated $1,000,000 to enlarge and modernize
In 1988 the Kenan Trust made another $1,000,000 gift to complete the new chancellor's box on the North Side. Another lasting memory of William R. Kenan Jr. is the Kenan Athletic Scholarship Endowment valued at over $1,000,000. Each year a student athlete is awarded a full scholarship from this fund.
Besides giving the stadium to the University, Mr. Kenan also sponsored and financed the famous Kenan Professorships. He was awarded the honorary degree of LL.D. by his alma mater in 1944.
In the first game played there, Carolina defeated Davidson, 27-0, on November 12, 1927.
The most points scored by the Tar Heels in Kenan came in the third game played there as Carolina whipped Wake Forest, 65-0, in the 1928 season opener.
As originally built, the stadium seated 24,000. However, in 1963 the benefactor added portable stands and then an upper deck to the permanent stands, which increased capacity to 48,000. That was expanded to 50,000 in 1979 and then to 52,000 in 1988.
After the 1976 season, Kenan Fieldhouse underwent a massive renovation. The building was expanded to 30,000 square feet of dressing rooms, coaches' offices, lounges, meeting rooms, weight-training quarters and other facilities. The players' lockerroom was renovated again in 1988.
The Student-Athlete Development Center was added to the fieldhouse in 1986. A 20,000 square foot building, it is a one-of-a-kind facility.
For study purposes, it contains a language lab, video room, computer lab, theatre-style lecture hall, several reading rooms and numerous tutorial rooms. Carolina's academic counseling staff has the advantage of using the most modern techniques in helping student-athletes with their studies.
The bottom half of the building encompasses one of the most complete strength fitness centers in the country. Workout rooms and performance labs contain the most current apparatus available.
Capacity crowds have come to be expected at Kenan. The highest attendance at a game there was the crowd of 54,300 which viewed Carolina defeat rival N.C. State, 31-17 in 1994. That topped the previous high of 54,100 which saw the 13th-ranked Tar Heels play host to number-one rated Florida State in 1993.
The 1983 season saw another first in the stadium - a game played under artificial lights. The Carolina-Duke game was played in the late afternoon so it could be televised throughout the Atlantic Coast Conference area. Portable lights were brought in since the second half was played after sunset. Portable lights were also used in the
1987 Clemson game which was televised nationally by ESPN.
The 1991 season opener versus Cincinnati and the Clemson game, which was televised nationally by ESPN, were the first true night games ever played at Kenan Memorial Stadium. A total of seven night games have been played since the lights were installed, including the season-opening win over Texas Christian in 1994.
The stadium has been expanded several times since its completion in 1927. In each instance, though, great care was taken to keep its fundamental beauty intact. The addition of the Frank H. Kenan Football Center and the North Side Stadium Preferred Seating Box have further enhanced the stadium's status as a campus landmark.
The Kenan Football Center is one of the most impressive structures of its kind in the country. The four-level structure houses the Carolina football program, including the coaches' offices, locker rooms, weight room, training room, equipment room, players' lounge, computer labs and study areas, academic coordinator's office, 100-plus seat auditorium, theater and Hall of Honor.
The Hall of Honor, located on the ground floor, is a multi-media history of Carolina football. Photographs, awards, trophies and artifacts detailing the rich and storied history of the sport in Chapel Hill are on display. The 17 Carolina players who have been honored by placing their names and numbers on display in the stadium are also featured in the Hall of Honor. Special plaques, flags and an audio- visual presentation on each player are highlighted.
The James A. Heavner Theater was made possible by a special gift by the executive producer of the Tar Heels Sports Network and president of Vilcom. The theater is a 30-person mini-theater equipped with surround sound and seven dramatic videos presenting the history of UNC football.
A number of rooms in the Kenan Football Center have been dedicated in the honor or memory of Carolina's benefactors, fans and athletic personalities. They include the Brinkley Lounge, the fourth floor reception area named for Harvey M. Brinkley Jr.; the Don McCauley/Paul Miller Head Coach's Suite; the Norman M. (Buddy) Black Jr. Lounge, the fourth floor hospitality area; the Oscar Davenport/Chris Keldorf Quarterback Meeting Room as given by Bob Biggerstaff; the Jo Allison Clary Smith Weight Room; the Carolina Football Players' Locker Room, named in behalf of the more than 400 former Tar Heels who donated more than $2 million to the project; Koury Box North, box seating on the north side of the stadium named for Maurice J. Koury; the John W. Pope Academic Support Facility; the John W. Pope Stadium Box, a stadium box on the north side; and the John W. Swofford Auditorium.
The expansion project, in which great care was taken to ensure that the surrounding environment would be altered as little as possible, ties the north and south concourses to either end of the lower deck via the third level of the Kenan Center, making fan movement around the stadium much easier.
The new football center is named in honor of the late Frank H. Kenan, one of the school's most generous benefactors. Kenan was a Durham resident and chief executive officer of Kenan Transport Company in Chapel Hill. He passed away at the age of 83 in June 1996.
UNC STARTS PHASE 2 OF STADIUM WORK
October 8, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
Chapel Hill, N.C. - The University of North Carolina has begun the second phase of its
renovation program for Kenan Stadium by putting new club seats and luxury suites on sale.
Phase I, which included new stadium lights and adding a fifth floor to the football center, was
completed during the summer.
The new center - which will house student-athlete academic support, the Carolina Leadership
Academy, a strength and conditioning center, visiting locker rooms, club seats and individual
suites - will be located in the east zone and will triple the size of the current facility that was
opened 23 years ago.
The project is expected to cost $70-85 million, but its final approval by the Board of Trustees
and university administration will occur once the necessary private funding is secured. The sale of
the club seats and individual suites will pay for most of the project.
The school wanted to begin Phase II a year ago but didn't because the economy wasn't strong
enough. Construction costs are more favorable now, although there is no timetable for completion.
The new seating section will be called the Blue Zone and will increase the stadium capacity by
3,230 seats. The individual suites seat 16 and will sell for $50,000 a year. There are 1,986 seats in
the Concourse Club and 924 seats in the Upper Club/Loge, and they will sell for $1,500 to $2,500
A new concourse in front of the Carolina Student-Athlete Center for Excellence also will allow
fans to move around the entire perimeter of Kenan Stadium for the first time.
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 to double the amount of
space that currently is available.
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.
December 10, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is considering the limited use of alcohol inside Kenan Stadium which is undergoing an $80 million upgrade. Part the construction will be to add luxury suites and club seats and the school may want to make alcohol available in those areas. Only beer and wine would be offered.
STADIUM EXPANSION PLANNED IN CHAPEL HILL
June 3, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures
Chapel Hill, N.C. - University of North Carolina Trustees have approved a $70 million project
that will fund luxury suites for Kenan Stadium and new academic facilities.
No public money will be used for the project. Half of the funding will come from private donors,
and the rest will come from the sales of luxury seats and suites.
When they settle into their new seats, with food service, rest rooms and other amenities, the
UNC fans buying the premium seats will, for the first time, be able to buy beer and wine. Alcohol has never been sold at UNC-CH athletic venues, but officials are allowing it now as an enticement.
So far, 15 of 20 luxury suites have been sold, at $50,000 each per season. All 224 upper loge boxes, at $2,500 each, have been claimed.
In all, about 3,000 seats will be added. A fundraiser to collect $35 million by 2015 has had a strong start.
The university surpassed this year's $10 million goal, bringing in $10.3 million, and officials
expect little trouble raising the $5 million per year needed to hit the $35 million total.
One draw for donors has been the new academic center, which at 30,000 square feet will be a major upgrade of the 9,000-square-foot facility it will replace in the same location. The academic
center will be available to athletes in all 28 sports.