UNC Sports Complex Project Makes Slow Progress

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Copyright 2017 The Durham Herald Co.
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The Herald-Sun (Durham, N.C.)
January 30, 2017


CHAPEL HILL -- UNC-Chapel Hill's plan to revamp its South Campus sports complex took another step forward this week, with trustees signaling support for moving the university's field hockey team in a bit of musical chairs to help the soccer and football teams.

Advisory votes by the trustees' finance committee backed proposals to demolish the field hockey team's existing facility, Henry Stadium, and convert what's now an intramural sports site, Ehringhaus Field, into the team's new home.

The $14.2 million project is helping clear the way for the construction of a new soccer stadium close to South Road at what's now Fetzer Field, and for the construction of another indoor practice building for the football team.

Previously endorsed by the trustees, the soccer stadium will cost about $30 million and the indoor-practice facility another $25 million. UNC-Chapel Hill's athletics boosters, the Rams Club, is expected to foot all those bills.

Trustees had little comment on the field hockey project, in contrast to the grumbling that came earlier this month when their counterparts on the system Board of Governors' finance committee were asked to OK its budget guideline.

There, a couple board members complained about a piecemeal approval process that's essentially denied them a chance to get the complete picture of how the projects fit together from a business standpoint.

That the knock-on effects continue was obvious during the trustees debate, as Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services Anna Wu told trustees the new field hockey facility at Ehringhaus Field will include "shared use with Campus Recreation."

The Campus Recreation office is the umbrella organization for the university's intramural and club sports programs. It controls Ehringhaus Field for now and uses it as the "primary practice and home-game field for many of Carolina's outdoor clubs-sports teams."

Intramural sports involve competition among students at UNC-Chapel Hill,while club sports teams play counterparts from other universities, albeit not under the eligibility, business, regulatory or media umbrella of the NCAA.

Field hockey, by contrast, is an NCAA sport on par with football and soccer.

Wu's boss, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Matt Fajack, told Board of Governors members earlier this month that the need to iron out an agreement on the use of Ehringhaus Field was the main reason the projects have reached them piecemeal.

Nor is the field hockey team's move the last bit of musical chairs involved. The replacement of Fetzer Field includes converting the existing stadium into a soccer-only facility, deleting the track that now rings it.

Plans indicate the track's replacement will go on a site southeast of campus, near the Finley Golf Course.

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