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Faculty Athletics Committee discusses new athletic facilities

The Faculty Athletics Committee met Tuesday afternoon in a Wilson Library meeting room.
The Faculty Athletics Committee met Tuesday afternoon in a Wilson Library meeting room.

Mike Bunting, associate athletic director of facility planning and management, said Campus Recreation identified a need for up to 30 acres of field space to support their program.

Bunting said Campus Recreation currently only has 8 acres and the need for more space has led to plans for new facilities.

He said adapting current facilities for shared use between Campus Recreation programs and student athletes is one of the solutions to their problems. The natural coordination in schedules would help their plan.

“In broad strokes, the academic side of campus would utilize the facilities in the morning hours, athletics in the afternoon and recreation in the evening,” Bunting said.

Bunting said the primary part of the project was to build a new indoor practice facility for UNC’s football program.

Building a new indoor practice facility and a new soccer and lacrosse stadium would cause the outdoor track, currently Belk Track, to be relocated to Finley Fields, and Henry Stadium, the field hockey stadium, would move to Ehringhaus Field.

Although the indoor practice field is a priority for the football team, it could benefit all of campus, Bunting said.

“This is, we hope, so much more than just football,” he said. “It’s really going to support all of our field’s programs, plus recreation opportunities on campus.”

After the presentation, concerns were raised about commuting to Finley Fields, located south of campus.

Committee member Deborah Stroman said because the distance to and from Finley Fields is so far, it disproportionately affects lower income students who don’t have the luxury of a car or scooter.

Ezra Baeli-Wang, a student athlete advisory council representative, said the off campus facilities would not have locker rooms and the current locker rooms are in Eddie Smith Field House.

Chancellor Carol Folt said there is a larger master plan that considers athletic facilities along with University facilities.

“I think it’s just that every space that is available is not necessarily being thought of,” Folt said.

“You’re trying to figure out which things can actually thrive best a little bit further out.”

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said the athletic department had looked at many other options, including portable bleachers and putting the track where the Kenan-Flagler Business School parking lot currently is, but each option faced too many problems.

“When we measured against all of the other options, it seemed to be the one that was best for most, only if we get to a shared use facility agreement with our rec sports, intercollegiate athletics and exercise and sport science,” Cunningham said.

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