“We think we’re going to do a $100 million worth of renovations to the stadium, and we’re hoping that it’s going to start within the next 18 months,” Davis said.
The plans include enclosing the lower bowl with a replica of the existing facility on the opposite end zone, while building skyboxes and an academic center, as well as updating the press box. There are also discussions about adding a fifth-floor to the Kenan Football Center.
Some minor projects around the stadium haven already taken place this summer.
“We’ve added some LED boards to the stadium, trying to dress it up in anticipation of some of the things that’s going to happen,” Davis said. “We’ve done some things in the football center – new weight room, new locker room, some stuff with the recruiting room…
“But as far as I’m concerned, what I’m more worried about is [if] the grass going to be ready by Sept. 1.”
While plans have been tossed around for the past several years, serious talks began in early November of last year.
Davis indicated that the administration had traveled to various college stadiums, including Alabama, Arkansas and Texas, to learn more about how those schools handled their renovations. Several architectural firms have also visited Chapel Hill to discuss possible options with university officials.
“There will be a process to go through to try to figure out exactly how they’re going to do it, because … you don’t want to ever damage the charm and beauty of Kenan Stadium,” Davis said. “It’s a classic.”
Davis said that the stadium renovations were an enticing part of his contract negotiations, but that the topic was brought up by the UNC side of the talks. The administration has not yet decided on the final capacity, instead focusing on how to improve the current conditions to equal and surpass opponents’ facilities across the region.
Approximately 50 schools have upgraded their stadiums since UNC’s last renovation in the 1997.
“You’ve just got to look up the Atlantic coast and see what everybody is doing and say, ‘We’ve got to into the race,’” Davis said.
The coaching staff has already begun to use the information on the recruiting trail.
“It’s something that we’ve been able to talk to recruits about,” Davis said. “Not only last year’s recruits, the Marvin Austin’s and Mike Paulus’s, but now with recruits in ’08 and ’09. We can say, ‘Hey, look, you’re liable to play your very first game as a freshman and you’re liable to run out there in the stadium and this will be a finished product.”
Davis hit the Tar Heel Tour circuit this offseason, building support and educating boosters on the necessity of the upgrades. One important aspect of the plans is that more than just the football staff and players will be able to take advantage of the new Kenan.
“This is not all just football-related – there’s going to be a lot of other sports that are going to benefit,” Davis said. “I know they’re going to build an Olympic weight room down there for all of the Olympic sports.
“It’s a pretty comprehensive plan that probably 20 of the 28 sports are going to benefit from.”