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The Daily Tar Heel

Q&A with UNC Athletics' Mike Bunting

Navy/Fetzer Fields Construction

Fetzer and Navy Field are both undergoing heavy construction this summer.

Mike Bunting serves as UNC's associate athletic director for facility planning and management, which means that he's currently very busy. UNC athletic facilities are undergoing a massive series of renovations this year, shuffling around and/or impacting track and field, soccer, football, field hockey and lacrosse. Summer editor Rachel Jones spoke with Bunting about the extent of the renovations and what they'll mean for the future. 

The Daily Tar Heel: Can you go through what renovations are taking place this year and how they're going to impact athletic programs?

Mike Bunting: So in the middle of campus, we're underway on a soccer-lacrosse stadium at Fetzer Field and an indoor practice facility for football and all of our field sports. So the indoor practice facility will include two outdoor practice fields, one synthetic, one natural grass. And at that practice complex, we are underway on a new track complex at Finley Fields, the outdoor track and associated facilities. That will also include two synthetic practice fields for our soccer and lacrosse programs. We will break ground in August, next month, on a new field hockey stadium at Ehringhaus Field. We are just completing a field renovation at Kenan Stadium. While the football practice complex is under construction, the team will have to practice, as well as compete, at Kenan Stadium. And we have just completed two new grass practice fields for our soccer and lacrosse programs at Finley Fields as well. 

DTH: Are those programs going to practice on the fields this year?

MB: For the coming school year, the two soccer programs will practice at Finley Fields. Women's lacrosse will practice at Finley Fields. Men's lacrosse will practice at Hooker Fields. They practice early in the morning, so they'll be out before campus rec and LFIT programming starts.
Field hockey will practice in the Eddie Smith Field House, and they will also practice and compete at Duke in their field hockey facility.

DTH: Are soccer and lacrosse also going to be competing at Duke?

MB: Both lacrosse programs will compete in Kenan Stadium for their 2018 seasons. Soccer for this fall, 2017, will compete at Wake Med soccer park. Men will play at Wake Med, but they also will compete at Elon and in Greensboro.

DTH: Is this a normal amount of renovation for a year?

MB: No, it definitely isn't. This is the most work we've had going on at one time probably in our history, with the broadest impact to the number of programs and student athletes, and campus as well. This is having some impact on the LFIT class program under exercise and sports science and campus rec as well. But we're all going to benefit from it in the long run. But the nature of what we're doing had a little bit of a domino effect, that caused us to do all these things at once. When we renovated Fetzer — when we decided to build the indoor practice facility for football and all our programs, the footprint of that building was going to cause us to need to move forward immediately with the renovation in Fetzer to the soccer/lacrosse stadium. 

All these were planned projects, but it just made the most sense logistically to do them all at once. And that also had the domino effect of we needed to move forward immediately with the new field hockey stadium and the disturbance caused by the one project meant we needed to move forward with the other things as well. We are absolutely — all of our track programs, two soccer programs, two lacrosse programs, football, field hockey, all their facilities are being disturbed at once.

DTH: How have those teams taken it so far?

MB: It's been a little bit of a challenge, but everybody's been really great about this. Everybody's worked together. We've had multiple coordination meetings with all of the programs involved, and we literally sit around a table with a list of, 'This is what's available, how are we going to make this work?' And everybody's on board. Everybody understands that this is for the greater good and we're all going to benefit in the long run. Everybody's given it 100 percent support, and we've found a way to make it work.

DTH: When do you anticipate these projects finishing up?

MB: Fetzer, the soccer/lacrosse stadium, the indoor practice facility and the field hockey stadium, we anticipate completion for all three of those projects in August of 2018. The track complex that's underway should finish in the spring of 2018. Our target is April of 2018.

DTH: How is Fetzer stadium going to be different?

MB: The soccer/lacrosse stadium? It's different in a lot of ways. It's a whole new stadium, so the field won't have a track around it any longer, because we're relocating the track to Finley Fields. The fans will be much closer to the field. We'll have seating on all four sides of the field instead of just one. We'll have a new team building, with offices and locker rooms for both soccer programs and women's lacrosse. New LED sport lighting, new video board, restrooms, concessions. Do you know that in the current Fetzer Field, there's not a single toilet? Not one. So we'll have public restrooms for the first time. (Currently) we have to open Carmichael and Eddie Smith restrooms for our fans on event days in Fetzer. We'll have much-improved restrooms, much-improved concessions, many more points of sale then we've had in the old stadium.

DTH: Where's the money for these projects coming from?

MB: Projects are funded by our educational foundation, the Rams Club.

DTH: Is there anything else you think we should know about these projects?

MB: The other thing that I think is worth mentioning, these projects are going to create some additional field space for all of our sports programs, but they're also going to create some additional field space to be used by campus recreation and the campus community. All the artificial fields that we're building, we're going to share the use of those with campus rec, and that's a new model. We haven't done that before. Campus rec has had their facilities and athletics has had theirs. And what we've realized is our primary programming needs for athletics are in the afternoon hours and campus rec's primary needs are in the evening, and we are going to make all of our synthetic fields available for them in the evening hours. And for the campus community at large in the morning hours, when athletics isn't using them.

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