|500 DAYS TO FOOTBALL|
500 days from now, history's first steps will be a thunderous run out of the tunnel and into the screaming daylight.
It will be day to remember - to photograph - to document. Twitter and iphone cameras will be busy.
Charlotte will, at last, take to McColl-Richardson Field - in front of over 15,000 fans that have waited a lifetime for this day.
Leading up to the moment - fans will gather. Students will turn out with painted faces - throwing footballs and Frisbees and enjoying their school. Alums will share stories of watching 49ers basketball games at the Mine Shaft - or the old Charlotte Coliseum, which still stands - or the new Charlotte Coliseum, which is no more.
An old soccer player will remember games on the front field. A baseball vet will talk about the fans that filled the hillside before the Hayes Stadium arrived. A volleyball alum will remember bleachers being moved courtside in Belk Gymnasium - and a runner will ask "What happened to the other track?" A softball player will remember games at West Meck High School and a tennis player will wonder aloud if the road or the courts moved.
And all will be amazed at the campus transformation since they left.
Kids will pose for pictures in front of statues, parents will take some time to check out the Student Union and young and old alike will take a leisurely walk around campus and lose themselves in the setting.
"Did you see the front entrance?"
"How about the cool courtyards?"
"Can you believe what they have in the Student Union? There's a Starbucks!"
"And how about that bookstore!"
Fans will come to campus for football - but they will leave with more.
They will leave with memories rekindled and memories anew. And they will leave with a greater appreciation of what has been growing over the years.
The new academic buildings with a distinctive collegial look, the impressive athletic facilities at every turn, the brick pavers, the vintage lights right off Main Street, USA, the benches, the landscaping. Heck, they'll think the parking decks are cool.
They'll point here and there and say more times than they'll care to admit: "Remember when" ... or "look at that" ... or "that used to be" ... or "I had no idea they had all this."
And then, they will cheer wildly - as if they were college kids all over, again. They'll lift children onto their shoulders and give high fives and fist bumps to strangers just seats away. They'll watch the students, out in force, as they celebrate their team.
And they will look onto the football field or off into the distance. "Would you look at all of this," they will say. "Just look."
It's not often you get a chance to see history in the making.