When the Charlotte 49ers football team kicks off its inaugural season this fall, it will do so in Jerry Richardson Stadium. Chancellor Philip L. Dubois and Judy Rose, director of athletics, announced the naming of Richardson Stadium at a press conference Tuesday, June 11.
Richardson, owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, committed $10 million to name the stadium in perpetuity. In addition, he and his wife Rosalind endowed a football scholarship in honor of their son Jon.
In announcing the gift, Dubois said, "Today, we take another huge step. Jerry knows that football can bring the students and the city of Charlotte together, and he wanted to be among the first to stand up and state, 'This program is important to me.'"
Richardson stated UNC Charlotte’s role in the community "cannot be underestimated and its profile will only continue to grow. The addition of football is another step in that growth, and it is important that our community supports the school and its programs. The potential of both the University and its athletic department is unlimited, and I am pleased to be able to participate in their development. My personal experiences from football have been very beneficial and this is a way to support both the future of the game and the University."
The Charlotte 49ers completed construction on the football stadium in October 2012. The 49ers began practice in the 15,300-seat stadium at that time.
"This donation comes from the generous heart of a man who values where he came from and wants to help others get to where they’re going," Rose said. "Jerry Richardson, by no means, needed to make this donation. His legacy in this community and around the country is firmly established. Jerry Richardson wanted to make this donation. As a former college athlete, he wanted to make this donation because of all that college athletics has done for him. As an owner of our region’s NFL franchise, he wanted to make this donation to support the region’s largest university."
Football head coach Brad Lambert noted, "In the football world, few men stand as tall as Mr. Richardson and to have him, once again, pronounce his support for our school and our program is amazing. We cannot thank you enough. This is an extremely generous gift. We are honored."
Previously, Richardson partnered with banking pioneer Hugh McColl to name the stadium field, McColl-Richardson Field. The Charlotte 49ers will begin play as a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) independent. The team’s first game in Jerry Richardson Stadium is Saturday, Aug. 31, against Campbell University.
Photo by Wade Bruton.