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UNC coach Mack Brown flirting with the idea of converting Kenan Stadium’s grass field to turf

18 hours in 90 seconds: Kenan Stadium grass replaced overnight for the Tar Heels​ home opener

Watch a time-lapse video as the turf at UNC's Kenan Stadium is replaced overnight after being worn out during August 2017 practices. About 2000 pictures taken over 18 hours are used in this video.
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Watch a time-lapse video as the turf at UNC's Kenan Stadium is replaced overnight after being worn out during August 2017 practices. About 2000 pictures taken over 18 hours are used in this video.

North Carolina coach Mack Brown and athletic director Bubba Cunningham are discussing the possibility of converting Kenan Stadium from a grass field to turf, Brown said on Wednesday.

In 2009, when Brown was at Texas, the school changed the field from grass to turf. At the time, it cost the school $400,000 to install, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

“We’ve talked about it some,” Brown said. “I can remember when we were here before that we had some grass issues and we had them at Texas and we changed to turf because we were going to have a fast team, and also you never lose a game because of weather and I think that’s really important.”

This isn’t the first time the idea has been proposed. In 1970, then-UNC athletic director Homer Rice wanted to install artificial turf to Kenan Stadium. But the plans were nixed in 1971 by university officials who wanted to keep the field natural, according to an article in the Carolina Alumni Review from September 1971. They instead installed artificial turf on one of the three practice playing fields.

Robbi Pickeral Evans, a university spokesperson, said in an email that the university is considering turf, but did not have any details on costs.

Last year, the Tar Heels practiced on the field at Kenan Stadium because their new indoor practice facility had not been completed. The field often had to be resodded prior to gameday. The constant use took a toll on the field.

Grass fields require maintenance work, such as cutting the grass, watering it and having to deal with bad weather.

The indoor practice facility is nearly complete, and players have started practicing there. The outdoor practice fields, which are part of the project, are still under construction. It is unclear when the entire project will be finished.

As for Kenan Stadium, which has Bermuda grass, converting it into turf remains a possibility.

“Bubba and I are in talks about that possibility and I obviously like it,” Brown said.

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Jonathan M. Alexander has been covering the North Carolina Tar Heels since May 2018. He previously covered Duke basketball and recruiting in the ACC. He is an alumnus of N.C. Central University.
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