|The Final 49: State of Charlotte|
THE FINAL 49:
We take a moment during each of the Final 49 weeks until Kickoff 2013 to look at various aspects of the Charlotte 49ers football program.
State of Charlotte
July 23, 2013
By Tom Whitestone
his past week, the Charlotte 49ers announced a three-year deal authored by IMG College with WCCB-TV Charlotte to broadcast home football games.
Back in 2008, when Chancellor Philip Dubois first recommended the addition of football to the university Board of Trustees -- that recommendation came based on a three-prong impact.
Build school spirit among the existing student body.
Create greater ties with the Charlotte community.
In a variety of ways we have seen positive results in each area.
Even though we have yet to play our first game, the energy and excitement on-campus is noticeable. The student body was energized during the Spring Game. Former Dean of Students Michelle Howard commented after the game about the pride she felt when she saw such a diverse group of students in attendance. The entire campus was represented -- and that is a key to true school spirit. More of that will be seen during the inaugural season. More green and white on-campus. More spirit. More ownership.
The same could be said for alums. About 70% of the 49ers FSLs were sold to alums. Football was bringing them back to campus. They came back to see the stadium construction. They came back to choose their seats. They darn well came back for the Spring Game.
That leaves the community. Throughout town. At restaurants. At the airport. At youth games At speaking engagements. At receptions. At the grocery store. 49ers officials continually are approached and asked about football.
That has been eye-opening. Folks in the community without a tie to the program were becoming more than interested -- they were becoming excited. You could sense it.
Last week, with the WCCB announcement, the 49ers extended that reach to the television-viewing audience. To have a regular presence in the nation's #25 ranked television market is a huge coup for the first-year program -- and it speaks to the excitement around the program and it speaks to the impact the program can have on building those community ties.
The same week, another announcement sent the same message. At the groundbreaking ceremony for the Blue Line, which will bring light rail from center city to the UNC Charlotte campus -- Governor Pat McCrory commended Dubois for helping push the project through, with a "Bring it on" attitude.
"This connects us," added McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor.
Day by day. Project by project. That connection between city and school is getting stronger.
And 49ers football is doing its part -- from its community outreach, to the naming McColl-Richardson Field and Jerry Richardson Stadium to the twitter hashtag popularized by the 49ers coaching staff: #stateofcharlotte to the announcement that 49ers football will be accessible in living rooms throughout the region -- 49ers football is doing its part.