As the Bears return to the gridiron, they do so with two big facility upgrades — new turf, generously funded by a donor in partnership with Academy Sports Turf; and the Empower Center, UNC’s new sport performance center.

“The new turf is going to mean a lot,” Head Coach Ed McCaffrey says. “We’ll now have a consistent playing surface that doesn’t need to be maintained a lot throughout the year. The grass field we had undulated in places and was uneven, and the new turf provides a safe and level playing field that will look great.”

The new Empower Center (named by lead donors John ’84 and Angela ’89 Schmidt) is UNC’s first fully donor-funded campus building. Expected to be open for student-athlete use in November, the $4 million, 10,250 square-foot facility more than doubles the space used in the previous facility and features a spacious weight room, new equipment, enhanced nutrition station, and offices for the strength and conditioning staff.

“Thank you to all of our donors and alums who made the Empower Center possible,” McCaffrey says. “This shows our athletes how serious we are about creating a great experience for them. We’re showing them we care and we want to give them the resources to be the best they can be and have success.”