The 2021 Charlotte football season will be a season of firsts for the 49ers: the first home game against an ACC opponent; the first meeting with a Big 10 team; the first time facing a pair of Power 5 opponents; and, after six years in Conference USA, the first game against league member Louisiana Tech.
And to make sure the stadium is ready, UNC Charlotte Athletics is installing a state-of-the-art turf system at McColl-Richardson Field at Jerry Richardson Stadium, the home playing field for the Charlotte 49ers.
Made by AstroTurf®, the leader in synthetic turf innovation, the new playing surface will be a major performance and aesthetic upgrade. Now that spring practice has wrapped up, the Charlotte 49ers football players and coaching staff, led by head coach, Will Healy, are looking forward to playing a competitive fall season on world-class turf. The project begins in late May and will be completed on June 21.
UNC Charlotte opted for one of AstroTurf’s most advanced products, the RootZone 3D3 Trionic Blend system. The new turf features texturized layers of fibers, which have been purpose-built to hold down the infill layer and minimize migration. AstroTurf’s patented Trionic fibers achieve a safer playing surface because of their grass-like traction. They also bolster the stability and strength of the field.
In addition to the RootZone 3D3 turf system, McColl-Richardson Field is getting a Brock SP17 shock pad, which will enhance shock absorption and guarantee HIC and G-Max measurements. The new field will also have a brand new 49ers logo on the midfield, as well as custom colors for the end zone backgrounds and the field border.
“We are extremely excited to have AstroTurf provide our playing surface at Jerry Richardson Stadium, said Cass Ferguson, the assistant athletic director of facilities and events for the Charlotte. “Through AstroTurf and the Brock padding system we are providing a high-level playing surface for our football team.
“On top of the great product for our student-athletes, we have been able to highlight our bold new brand in an attractive fashion that will capture attention across the country. Definitely gold standard!”
This will be Coach Will Healy’s second full season at the helm after the 2020 college football season was cut short due to COVID-19 restrictions. Last year, the Charlotte 49ers finished 2-2 in the East Division.
An NCAA Division 1 FCS independent team in 2013 and 2014, the 49ers have played in Conference USA (C-USA) since 2015. A relatively young football program, UNC Charlotte played its first home game at Jerry Richardson Stadium on August 31, 2013, against Campbell University and its first bowl game in 2019 against the Buffalo Bulls.
Coach Healy has done an impressive job so far, bringing out the best of the athletes. Charlotte is currently ranked fourth in C-USA East behind Marshall, Florida Atlantic, and Western Kentucky. The school has also sent a number of players to the NFL in recent years, including edge rusher Alex Highsmith, who went from underrated high school athlete to finishing his senior year at UNC with 15 sacks, the third-most in the FBS, and offensive lineman, Cameron Clark, who was drafted by the New York Jets in 2020. For the 2021 NFL draft, MVP Ben DeLuca signed with the LA Chargers, Tre Harbison and Romeo McKnight went to the Cleveland Browns, and starting center Jaelin Fisher earned an invitation to the Pittsburgh Steeler’s rookie minicamp.
The first game on the new stadium turf will happen on September 4, 2021, when the UNC Charlotte 49ers play against Duke University Blue Devils. Duke plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference and has been coached by David Cutcliffe since 2008. The team has had a rocky history, including several breakout seasons since 2013. The 49ers-Blue Devils match-up will be one to watch.
The 49ers will also play Gardner-Webb, Middle Tennessee State University, Florida Atlantic, Rice, and Marshall on the new AstroTurf field at Jerry Richardson Stadium this year. Tickets are now available online.
For athletes and sports enthusiasts, AstroTurf® has redefined the way the game is played. The brand offers advanced, state-of-the-art, multi-sport, and specialized synthetic turf systems with proprietary engineered technologies. A growing number of high schools, colleges, professional sports teams, and municipalities continue to select AstroTurf-branded products for their premium quality, technical superiority, and safety. To learn more, visit AstroTurf’s website at www.astroturf.com.