Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Charlotte 49ers Unveil EverGreen Athletics Facilities Master Vision, Calls For Expansion to Richardson Stadium

CHARLOTTE – The Charlotte 49ers Athletics Department has announced its EverGreen Athletics Facilities Master Vision, which will integrate into UNC Charlotte’s overall campus master plan that is being updated. EverGreen includes substantial upgrades to existing facilities as well as the construction of new spaces to enhance the overall development of its entire program. 

“As the University embarks upon an overall campus master planning process, the athletics master vision will be a key component of it,” said Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. “This ambitious plan is reflective of the upward trajectory of UNC Charlotte's athletics program which is, for many of our constituents, the 'front porch' of the University. We are committed to providing an experience for our students, alumni, and fans that mirrors the excellence embodied throughout UNC Charlotte - in our academics, research, community engagement, and every other facet of what we do.”

While the vision offers a 12-15 year look at what the future holds for all 49ers campus facilities, Charlotte is currently focused on the $102 million Phase I, which features the first expansion of Jerry Richardson Stadium, a design already underway for a new softball clubhouse and recently completed upgrades to the football locker room. Phase I also includes the construction of a new stadium to be shared by men’s and women’s soccer and the newly announced women’s lacrosse program, a clubhouse for the baseball program, and men's and women's basketball locker room renovations.   

“This is a vision of what we intend to become,” said Mike Hill, director of athletics. “We have aspirations to achieve greatness and further elevate the visibility and profile of our University. As we take the next step in our growth by joining the American Athletic Conference, our competition gets tougher against more established programs, so it is imperative that we provide our coaches and student-athletes with the resources necessary to compete for championships. Our fans deserve the very best experience when they come to support their beloved Niners.”  

Projects identified in Phase I, for which fundraising efforts have begun, are critical to the 49ers' transition to the American Athletic Conference and the addition of their 19th sport, women’s lacrosse.

“This initiative is a tangible reflection of Charlotte’s commitment to competition in the American Athletic Conference and at the highest level of Division I athletics,” said American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco. “It aligns with the shared vision of our conference membership and the sustained progress that has defined The American since our inception. I applaud Chancellor Sharon Gaber, Athletic Director Mike Hill and all those who strongly support this great university as its commitment to excellence continues. The University leadership’s foresight, acumen and dynamic approach have made this vision a reality that will be transformative for the University and its athletics program.”

The EverGreen Master Vision is led by nationally renowned HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm, and Jenkins-Peer Architects, a highly regarded and award-winning local firm. HOK has nationwide experience in the athletic construction field, while Jenkins-Peer designed Jerry Richardson Stadium and the Judy W. Rose Football Center as well as other projects on campus, including the University Recreation Center. 

The process included input from coaches, student-athletes, athletics staff, supporters, and university and athletic administrators. Originally, the plan was to be finalized in spring 2020; however, due to the pandemic, it was temporarily paused and subsequently modified.          

“The American invited us to join because of the incredible trajectory of our athletics program, university, and city,” Hill added. “Our ability to clearly articulate this vision, including expansion of the football stadium, was certainly a factor. To achieve our goals, we will need to galvanize the resources of our amazing city and university. We can do this together.”




Adjacent to the Lewis Family Softball Training Facility behind the first baseline, the softball clubhouse will serve as the new home for 49ers softball, including locker room and team meeting space, coaches’ offices and a training room. Softball’s departure from the Wells Fargo Fieldhouse allows for future expansion of women’s sports within that facility.


New lockers maximize space for the football team and provide enhanced technology and equipment storage for over 100 student-athletes. 



The first expansion of Jerry Richardson Stadium will provide additional access to 49ers games and significantly upgrade the fan experience by offering club seating, loge boxes, hospitality suites, an outdoor terrace, and a mezzanine club as well as the traditional press suite level. The initial stages of this project will push the capacity over 21,000 while the ultimate objective of Phase I is to accommodate over 30,000 fans.


Locker rooms for both the 49ers' men's and women's basketball programs will undergo substantial renovations to allow for a heightened student-athlete experience. The new layouts will create more space and seating as well as player lounges and meeting space.


Phase I calls for the relocation of the playing venue for the Charlotte 49ers' men's and women's soccer programs, which will return the programs to their playing site prior to the construction of Irwin Belk Track and Field Center/Transamerica Field in 1996. The soccer and lacrosse stadium will provide a spectacular new home for the 49ers' national-caliber men’s and women’s soccer programs as well as the program’s newest sport, women’s lacrosse. The stadium will offer excellent fan amenities while bringing Niner Nation up close to on-field action. Until its completion, the lacrosse program will play home games at Jerry Richardson Stadium.


To move baseball operations entirely to Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium, a new clubhouse will feature coaches' offices, locker rooms, training room and team spaces. The baseball clubhouse will sit on the right field line between the grandstand and indoor facility and will feature a terrace for fans to congregate and watch games. In addition, baseball vacating the Wells Fargo Fieldhouse will create a home for the women’s lacrosse team.


Additional Phases of EverGreen will include construction of and expansion and renovations to other athletics facilities that will impact each and every one of the 49ers’ programs. Those projects include: Basketball Practice Facility and Student-Athlete Enhancement Center, Irwin Belk Track and Field Center enhancements, Dale F. Halton Arena enhancements, Indoor Football Practice Facility, Sue M. Daughtridge Stadium expansion, a new Wells Fargo Fieldhouse, Halton-Wagner Tennis Complex Indoor Facility, and Robert & Mariam Hayes Stadium expansion.