Hayes Stadium namesakes changed lives through their philanthropy

Mariam and Robert Hayes
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Once named the “Top Ballpark in North Carolina,” the Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium honors a couple whose financial support benefited UNC Charlotte and a wide variety of enterprises leading to a better quality of life for countless individuals.

Hayes Stadium opened March 31, 2007, and boasts a full-service concession stand and restrooms on the concourse level. The facility has 550 chair-backed seats on the lower level and 550 combined bleacher seats on either side of the press box. Lawn seating is available down the left and right field foul lines, too.

The press box area contains two radio booths, one television booth and a conference room. The facility underwent a $55,000 upgrade before the 2013 season, with expanded dugouts and an expanded first-base bullpen and batting cage area. Prior to the 2016 season, a $300,000 synthetic turf infield was put in place to help with snow/rain issues in the spring. The outfield remains Bermuda grass. 

Robert Hayes, who died in November 1998, was a successful businessman in Cabarrus County; his wife Mariam Cannon Hayes was the daughter of Charles Cannon, president of the Cannon Mills Company from the 1920s to the 1960s.

A Charlotte native, Robert Hayes graduated from Central High School, the Blue Ridge School for Boys and Duke University. During World War II, he served four years on active duty as executive officer of the Naval Air Station in Trenton, N.J. He began his business career as a teller in the Kannapolis branch of Cabarrus Bank & Trust Co. and became president of numerous corporations, including the Daily Independent newspaper, Central Motor Lines and Central Distributing Co., the area distributor for Shell Oil products.

Mariam Hayes attended Mount Vernon Seminary, Queens College and the University of Oklahoma. With her father, she established the Cannon Music Camp at Appalachian State University. She later served as president and director of the Cannon Foundation Inc. and a trustee of the Charles Cannon Charitable Trusts. Additionally, she was a trustee of Queens College and the Blowing Rock Hospital, a director of the N.C. Museum of Natural History and a member of the UNC Charlotte Board of Visitors. She died Aug. 4, 2007, just months before the formal dedication ceremony for Hayes Stadium on Oct. 19.

The Hayeses’ charitable contributions ranged from schools to hospitals, from churches to orphanages and art to athletics. They were known for a shared interest in competitive athletics and outdoor activities, and they were strong advocates for preserving mountain traditions and scenery. Their son, Robert Cannon “Robin” Hayes represented North Carolina’s 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009.

In 1993, the couple gave the University its largest donation at the time to help build the now James H. Barnhardt Student Activity Center. The gift included several hundred acres of land east of Harrisburg, where Barnhardt’s father was born. Barnhardt, the former chairman, director and president of Barnhardt Manufacturing, was the brother-in-law of Mariam Hayes.

For their staunch support of the University and the greater community, UNC Charlotte awarded Robert and Mariam Hayes honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in May 1996.

Atkins Library Special Collections contributed to this article.