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A look at the newest renovations coming to UNC's athletic facilities

Construction pauses on the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center in Chapel Hill on Monday, Mar. 21, 2022.

The UNC athletics department announced at the beginning of March that renovations are coming to four Tar Heel sports venues.

Carmichael Arena, the Kenan Football Center, the Finley Golf Course and the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center are all scheduled to be upgraded by late summer 2023. The renovations are part of the Campaign for Carolina and the Rams Club's “Campaign for Carolina Athletics." The campaigns provide financial support to various parts of the University and its sport programs.

Previous projects of the Campaign for Carolina Athletics included upgrades to Dorrance Field, Bill Koman Practice Complex, Karen Shelton Stadium and Eddie Smith Field House, as well as a new outdoor track complex at the former Finley Fields.

During the pandemic, many of UNC's capital projects were slowed or halted. But Rick Steinbacher, senior associate athletic director for Capital Projects and Facilities, said planning for the facilities' renovations continued.

“We’ve been planning all four of these projects over the past couple of years," Steinbacher said. "Now that we’re continuing to emerge from the pandemic, we’ve been able to kickstart our funding efforts, and the response from our donors has been incredibly strong.”

Carmichael Arena and Kenan Football Center

Steinbacher said he and Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham spent 1.5 years trying to assess the quality of the school's athletic facilities. Then, they met with coaches to determine what changes each team needed.

After these meetings took place and the Campaign for Carolina Athletics was announced, Rams Club members responded with financial contributions to fund the plans.

“We needed a dedicated practice facility for our women’s basketball team, needed to redo their locker room," Steinbacher said. "Our current football training room is extremely small — every March we have cracks in our tennis courts, and a lot of schools we compete against in golf have a separate training area for their varsity programs. We haven’t had that until now.”

Carmichael Arena will install a new women’s basketball-only practice facility next door in Woollen Gym.

After the renovations, head coach Courtney Banghart’s up-and-coming women’s basketball program will have access to a video system and electronic teaching stations. Expected to be completed during the fall 2022 semester, Carmichael’s renovations will cost approximately $6 million.

Banghart said because the new video system will be automatic, program staff who typically work behind the cameras can be on the floor more.

“I love the legacy and history of Carmichael, and I think these renovations will pull together the modernization of the spaces they’re in,” Banghart said. “There’s probably not a coach in the country that utilizes film as much as I do, and the way we film stuff now requires human capital to move the camera and another to live-code what’s going on."

The Kenan Football Center will see an expansion to its medical treatment facility and an updated player lounge. The current training room measures 2,400 square feet, and the renovations will give the team’s medical staff more space to treat and rehab players.

The upgrades are scheduled to be finished in March 2023 for about $15 million.

Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center and Finley Golf Course 

Despite not commanding the same national attention as the football or basketball teams, North Carolina’s tennis teams have been among the most successful teams in recent memory, taking home a combined four indoor national championships in the last three seasons.

But their home facility, the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center, doesn’t show for it.

UNC’s outdoor courts rank in the “bottom five of the country," women's tennis head coach Brian Kalbas said. He added that he's lost numerous blue-chip recruits for the team due to UNC’s deficient home courts and surrounding stadium.

"Last year, we were No. 1 in the nation and hosting Florida State, who was No. 2," Kalbas said. "We couldn’t play that match outside on a nice day because we had cracks going right through the courts.”

Cunningham attended that match against Florida State, according to Kalbas, and it was then that he realized how desperately renovations were needed.

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The outdoor renovations will include a new stadium with refurbished courts, elevated stadium seating, an up-to-date scoring system and lighting that meets NCAA Final Four hosting standards. A new team facility and improvements to the indoor courts are also in the works, but the outdoor upgrades will be finished first next year, totaling around $17 million.

“We’re going to go from having one of the bottom-five facilities in the country to having the best, and it’s so exciting," Kalbas said. "Matches are going to be more of an event, rather than just a tennis match.”

The final stage of renovations will be at Finley Golf Course, where a new practice complex will serve both the men’s and women’s teams. Built on the site of the current 10th and 11th holes of the course, the facility will include areas for players to work on their short game, approaches, putting and driving.

Two brand-new holes will be constructed to compensate for the two lost ones, and new greens and tee boxes will be installed on every hole. As a result of the changes, the current 12th hole will become the first hole of the course.

These upgrades will cost around $13 million and are scheduled to be completed right before the start of the 2023-24 school year.

The renovations will bring upgraded facilities for six of the University's 28 sports programs, the athletics department said in a March 1 announcement.

"Our coaches build programs with a commitment to providing the best experience possible for our student-athletes, and having modern, elite facilities is an important part of that process," Cunningham said in the announcement.

@dthsports |