When the Charlotte 49ers football team kicks off its inaugural season this fall, it will do so in Jerry Richardson Stadium. Chancellor Philip L. Dubois and Judy Rose, director of athletics, announced the naming of Richardson Stadium at a press conference Tuesday, June 11.
Richardson, owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, committed $10 million to name the stadium in perpetuity. In addition, he and his wife Rosalind endowed a football scholarship in honor of their son Jon.
“Jerry Richardson staked his claim to UNC Charlotte 10 million times,” said Dubois. “He knows that football can bring the students and the city of Charlotte together, and he understands how athletics can advance the connections between a university and its community. As an institution, UNC Charlotte is on the rise, and this gift will give us escape velocity to take our place among other great universities. Jerry recognizes what UNC Charlotte can do for the city, and what a city can do for its University.”
Richardson said, “The role UNC Charlotte plays in our community cannot be underestimated, and its profile will only continue to grow. The addition of football is another step in that growth, and it is important that our community supports the school and its programs. The potential of both the University and its athletic department is unlimited, and I am pleased to be able to participate in their development. My personal experiences from football have been very beneficial, and this is a way to support both the future of the game and the University. We’re excited to be part of your program. We’re team players, and we hope to have many years together.”
The Charlotte 49ers completed construction on the football stadium in October 2012. The football team began practice in the 15,300-seat stadium at that time. It is located across from Grigg and Duke Centennial halls, near the campus entrance off Highway 29 (N. Tryon Street).
Commenting on Richardson’s gift, Rose stated, “This donation comes from the generous heart of a man who values where he came from and wants to help others get to where they’re going. Jerry Richardson, by no means, needed to make this donation. His legacy in this community and around the country is firmly established. Jerry Richardson wanted to be among the first to stand up and state, ‘This program is important to me.’ As a former college athlete, he wanted to make this donation because of all that college athletics has done for him. As an owner of our region’s NFL franchise, he wanted to make this donation to support the region’s largest university.”
Football head coach Brad Lambert noted, “In the football world, few men stand as tall as Mr. Richardson and to have him, once again, pronounce his support for our school and our program is amazing. We cannot thank you enough. This is an extremely generous gift. We are honored.”
In appreciation of Richardson’s gift, Lambert presented the Carolina Panthers owner with an official 49ers football jersey with his last name on the back.
Previously, Richardson partnered with banking pioneer Hugh McColl to name the stadium field, McColl-Richardson Field. The 49ers also received a gift from Dale Halton to name the Judy W. Rose Football Center.
The Charlotte 49ers will begin play as a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) independent. The team’s first game in Richardson Stadium is Saturday, Aug. 31, against Campbell University.
In 2015, the 49ers will join Conference USA in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), with full FBS status, including bowl eligibility, slated for 2016.
A limited number of Football Seat licenses (FSLs) and season tickets are available for purchase online at charlotte49ers.com or by calling the 49ers Athletic Ticket Office at 704-687-4949.