CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte 49ers officially broke ground on its new football stadium complex on Thursday, as Niner Nation packed the on-campus fields where the 15,000-seat stadium will be located. Charlotte will begin playing football in 2013.
A crowd of over 3,000 saw head football coach Brad Lambert officially break ground with a front-end loader after Lambert, Chancellor Dr. Philip Dubois, Athletic Director Judy Rose, Student Body President Megan Smith, President-elect Dave Craven, Chair of the University's Board of Trustees Gene Johnson and Football Feasibility Committee chair Mac Everett gave rousing speeches praising the hard work and dedication of everyone who helped bring football to Charlotte.
"This is one of the largest crowds we have assembled," Dubois said. "Today we are here to celebrate another milestone in the history of this institution. Nearly as soon as I began my duties as the University's fourth Chancellor, one of the first questions I would be asked was 'when are we going to have football'. With the input and support of faculty, staff, students, alumni, our Board of Trustees and many dedicated community members, we were able to answer that question. That was step one, and since then, we have been laying the groundwork for today."
"We made it," Rose said. "This is a day we dreamed about since before the process even began. I want to thank our alumni, our students, our fans, the Board of Trustees, the Football Feasibility Committee, the FSL Sales Leadership team and sales force and the Charlotte Football Initiative. What Saturdays will look like remains to be seen. They will take on a life of their own. But it will all take place right here."
Rose then introduced Lambert who was greeted by the crowd chanting his name.
"How about this crowd," Lambert said in his address. "This facility is going to be first class. When I was doing research on this position; I saw the effort and passion going into this building. I could not have been more impressed. We are all fortunate to be part of this program, literally building this thing from the ground up. We are going to make history here, and when we take the field in the Fall of 2013, we take the field with you all on our side."
After the ceremony, junior Isaac Caughran of the Charlotte men's soccer team drilled a field goal through the center of the uprights of a temporary goal post. Alumni Association president Greg Ross and Norm the Niner then led the Special "Pick-Axe Team" out of the tunnel to a shower of confetti.
Lambert and student Micah Powers, the President of Niner Nation Gold, then tore up the turf with two front-end loaders that they drove from under the goalposts.
"This is what gameday will look like," Lambert said. "People tailgating, kids throwing footballs and an awful lot of fun and excitement. This is just great. What a wonderful day."
Local architect Jenkins • Peer Architects and national design firm DLR Group created the stadium design while the Construction Manager is Rodgers PCL Russell.
Since 1978, Jenkins • Peer Architects has delivered thoughtful design that enriches communities, respects environment, and promotes lasting value for its clients. The Charlotte-based firm is active throughout the Carolinas, offering planning and architectural services for higher education, civic, cultural, corporate and developer-driven projects.
DLR Group is an integrated design firm with offices coast-to-coast and in Shanghai. DLR Group's football portfolio includes renovations to the University of Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and renovations and improvements to the University of Nebraska's Memorial Stadium. The firm's sports practice also is nationally recognized for intercollegiate baseball and softball stadium design.
Rodgers PCL Russell is a joint venture of Rodgers Builders, PCL Construction Services, and H. J. Russell & Company. The construction team has extensive experience in athletic facilities, with representative projects including UNC Charlotte's James H. Barnhardt Student Activity Center & Dale F. Halton Arena, The Home Depot Center, Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, and the STAPLES Center.
The inaugural home game is slated for Aug. 31, 2013 vs. Campbell.