Kenan Memorial Stadium is located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and is the home field of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar
Heels. It is primarily used for football. Kenan Memorial Stadium opened in 1927 and holds 60,000 people.
By 1925 it was obvious that 2,400-seat Emerson Field was not adequate for the increasing crowds. Expansion was quickly ruled out since the
baseball team also used it, and any new football seats would have been terrible for baseball.
Funding for the stadium was originally supposed to come from alumni donations. However, Miami industrialist William R. Kenan, Jr., an 1894 UNC
graduate and grandson of one of UNC's original trustees, got word of the initial plans and donated a large gift to build the stadium and an
adjoining fieldhouse. The stadium was built as a memorial to his parents, William R. Kenan and Mary Hargrave Kenan. The elder Kenan was a
leader of the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898.
Ground was broken in November 1926 and was completed by August 1927. The stadium officially opened on November 12, 1927; the Tar Heels
defeated Davidson College 27-0, with the first touchdown in the new stadium by Edison Foard.
The original stadium - the lower level of the current stadium's sideline seats - seated 24,000 people. However, temporary bleachers were added
to the end zones to accommodate overflow crowds, allowing Kenan to accommodate over 40,000 people at times.
The stadium wasn't expanded until 1963, when Kenan (who died in 1965) donated $1 million to double-deck the sideline seats and add
permanent bleachers to the end zones, expanding capacity to 48,000. A seating adjustment in 1979 boosted capacity to 50,000. In 1988, the old
press box and chancellor's box were replaced by 2,000 seats between the 40-yard lines, expanding capacity to 52,000.
The stadium's biggest renovation project to date took place from 1995 to 1998. Head coach Mack Brown wanted a better facility to showcase a
resurgent football program, which had gone from consecutive 1-10 seasons in 1988 and 1989 to a run of success not approached since the
Choo Choo Justice era of the late 1940s. At the time, while it had long been considered one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country, it was
one of the few Division I-A stadiums that didn't have permanent seating in at least one end zone.
Several generous gifts resulted in the addition of a new playing field and a brand-new facility for the football team, the Frank H. Kenan Football
Center, named for the great-grandson of the stadium's original benefactor. The Kenan Center includes a memorabilia section showcasing the
football program's history. The most visible addition, however, was 8,000 new seats in the west end zone, which turned the stadium into a
horseshoe. Also added was a "preferred seating box" atop the north stands. Due to state law, only 6,000 of the new end zone seats were
available in 1997. The other 2,000 seats were added in 1998, bringing the stadium to its current capacity of 60,000. The latest addition to Kenan
was a $2 million scoreboard with video capability that debuted for the 2003 season.
The stadium's sight lines have always been very good. The field is approximately four feet below the stands, and the rise to the stands is very
steep. The end zone is only 20 feet from the field, and the sideline seats are only 50 feet from the field. Most of the end zone and three sections
of the south stands are reserved for students. Although it rarely happens, the stadium can get very loud.
While tickets are not nearly as hard to find as those for the basketball team, the Tar Heels sold out every game from 1992 to 1999. The largest
crowd to see a game at Kenan--and the largest to see a game on-campus in the state of North Carolina--was a standing-room-only throng of
62,000 that saw the Tar Heels play Florida State in 1997.
On December 4, 2006, the Chapel Hill Town Council approved changes to UNC's campus development plan, including a project that would add
more than 8,800 seats to Kenan Stadium.
New box seats and the final leg of a concourse on the eastern end of the stadium will displace the fieldhouse. The stadium also will gain new
restrooms, concession stands and a new pedestrian path to Rams Head.
The stadium will be under construction from November 2008 until September 2010.