A $10 million gift from an anonymous donor will fund the construction of a three-acre outdoor complex on UNC Charlotte’s campus to provide year-round opportunities for informal and organized student gatherings, including tailgating prior to Charlotte 49ers football games. The Student Outdoor Event Venue and Tailgate Park is scheduled to open in time for the fall 2022 football season.
"We are grateful for this generous donor’s investment in UNC Charlotte that will help build robust collegiate experiences to balance life in and outside the classroom; in particular, this Student Outdoor Event Venue and Tailgate Park will transform students’ overall experience on campus in novel ways," said Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. "As the Charlotte 49ers prepare to join the American Athletic Conference, this facility will help us sustain momentum for becoming a nationally recognized institution."
The UNC Charlotte Foundation will oversee construction of the 8,000-square-foot entertainment pavilion that will anchor the complex and whose student-focused design will be a distinguishing feature in higher education. It will be located close to Richardson Stadium near the North Carolina Motorsports Lab and football practice fields, and include power pedestals to support individual tailgating areas. A signature gateway portal will welcome venue users to the complex that will accommodate more than 2,500 students. Mature landscaping will be planted to reinforce the venue’s park-like atmosphere.
"We want all of our fans to have positive, memorable experiences at our games, and that is especially true for our students," said Mike Hill, Charlotte’s athletics director. "This new facility will give them new ways to engage on our campus and with our athletic program. We are excited about what this means for Charlotte football in the fall."
The new campus space will be managed by the Division of Student Affairs. The venue presents myriad opportunities to enhance the ways students experience entertainment and provides another opportunity, similar to Hauser Pavilion, for outdoor learning opportunities for faculty, according to Vice Chancellor Kevin W. Bailey.
"A comprehensive college experience offers outstanding opportunities through academics and extracurricular activities for students that build affinity for their eventual alma mater," he said. "In the coming months, we will give careful thought and consideration to utilizing this facility year-round to maximize its potential for strengthening Charlotte’s overall collegiate experience."
Representing the student point of view, Student Body President Dick Beekman seconded Bailey’s comments. "Students will be really excited to have this tailgating zone so close to the stadium to help create a new 49ers football tradition," he said. "This venue, which meets a longstanding student need, will encourage more Niners to come out and support the team at home games."