The Charlotte 49ers, that is.
With the 49ers set to launch a football program that will ultimately land at the FBS level, the university announced Tuesday that the team will play its home games at Jerry Richardson Stadium. Jerry Richardson, owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, donated $10 million to the university in exchange for what the school described as naming rights in perpetuity.
The 15,300-seat stadium bearing Richardson’s name was completed in October of 2012.
“Today, we take another huge step,” Charlotte chancellor Dr. Philip Dubois said. “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’.”
The 49ers will debut its newly-minted football program at the FCS level in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, the 49ers will move to the FBS level as a member of Conference USA.
“The role UNC Charlotte plays in our community cannot be underestimated and its profile will only continue to grow,” Richardson said. “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.”
In addition to the eight-figure donation that netted his name on the stadium, Richardson also announced that he has endowed a football-only scholarship in honor of his son, Jon Richardson.
(Photo credit: Charlotte athletics)