Sports

UNC to make the switch to synthetic grass at Kenan Stadium

North Carolina is making the switch to a synthetic turf surface at Kenan Stadium.

The cost of the project will be $2 million for the Kenan Stadium surface, according to a UNC spokesman, and $500,000 for three additional training areas on campus.

The installation process will take about eight weeks and begin after spring graduation ceremonies on May 12.

New football coach Mack Brown made a similar switch at Texas in 2009. Brown has cited the consistency of the artificial surface in adverse weather and the speed of it as reasons to replace natural grass.

“I think this is a positive addition for not only our football program, but the athletics department as a whole,” Brown said in a statement released by the school on Monday. “This will make the facility more versatile and give us a number of options for workouts and practices.”

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North Carolina freshman defensive end Chris Collins (17) runs sprints with teammates during the Tar Heels’ first practice of football camp on Friday, August 3, 2018 at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. New blue seats have been installed in Kenan Stadium replacing the old metal bleachers. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

UNC’s football team used Kenan Stadium the past two seasons for practice while its new indoor facility was being built and its old practice fields were torn up in the process. The athletic department had to resod the grass surface at Kenan Stadium before each home game last season.

Brown, who was hired in November to replace Larry Fedora, will have more practice options this year. The surface at Kenan Stadium, the RootZone 3D3 Blend synthetic grass by AstroTurf, will be the same as one of the practice fields for football and the training areas.

UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said the artificial surface gives other teams a chance to use Kenan as a “conditioning space.”

“With 28 teams and more than 800 student-athletes, we are always looking for ways to create multi-use spaces, and installing synthetic grass at Kenan does that,” Cunningham said in a statement released by the school.

The Tar Heels will get in one last game on the natural surface in the spring game on April 13.

The first game on the new surface will be the home opener against Miami on Sept. 7.

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