UNC’s biggest sporting venues are getting lighting upgrades this summer

If you happened to be walking near Kenan Stadium this summer and wondered, “What’s up with all those construction trucks?” Well, the answer is tied to Carmichael Arena and Smith Center.

Carolina has decided it’s time to convert all venues to the new LED lighting that you’re already starting to see in other stadiums. Not only are they more energy efficient as they use light emitting diodes instead of mainly halogen elements, but all can be used and programmed to do more than just provide white light around the stadium.

If you’re a fan of other sports, you’ve probably become aware of their presence when a team scores, hits a home run, scores a touchdown, and so on.

Finally, our neighbors down the street have it too, and you can see what happens when they score a touchdown.

You can do a lot with these lights. You can simply have them circling in a pattern to celebrate a score, you can turn them off instantly to set a mood, or you can change their color to do… both. In fact, Carter-Finley received the upgrades in time to have some fun with the lights during last February’s NHL Stadium Series game, and that added to the overall mood of the event.

Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images

The ‘Other uses’ part is important here as the lighting upgrades are being carried out just in time for the Chelsea v Wrexham friendly which is due to take place later this month. UNC fans get a first look at what the lights do during celebrations, during anthems, and any other mood they want to create. Then, on September 9, the full effect will be in place at the 5:15 p.m. kick-off against Appalachian State. With a typical playtime of 3.5 hours, the game ends after sunset and the full power of the lights is on display.

The late-night running to the stadium, touchdowns, and the 4th-quarter hype combo “Hell’s Bells/Can’t be Touched” will look very different in the stadium.

But even if you are at home, it will look different. UNC graduate James Gilbert has been studying the lighting change for some time and posted a quick tweet to show how people at home can expect things to be different next year:

Notice the sharper whites with the new lights. No doubt James is ready to compare and contrast the two once Carolina plays into the night this season.

However, as mentioned, Kenan isn’t the only place where the lighting can be changed. What alerted fans that something different was to come was a simple construction offer dated towards the end of basketball season. Although UNC did not officially make this Smith Center upgrade, there is an interesting note in the request: “Lightweight performance must exceed final NCAA National Championship site criteria.”

This is an interesting note as the opening of the Smith Center was performed using fans’ cell phones to the beat of the music. As the music and highlights play, each cellphone’s flashlight comes on, giving the illusion that everything is in sync. The problem for anyone who has GOED to a game is that the cell phone reception isn’t the best when there are so many people in one place and not everyone can get their phones to work.

It looks like Carolina is now going to do something cool with the lights at the Smith Center during the intros so fans don’t have to pull out their phones anymore. Since the clue won’t be announced until November, you can expect Carolina to be officially releasing something by then.

Finally, Carmichael Arena will receive some of the same improvements to lighting and other appearances. UNC made the announcement last week, and the timing couldn’t be better for a women’s program that not only has its sights set on a national championship, but will also welcome national power South Carolina this season in the ACC/SEC Challenge.

Carolina’s release is about more than just lights. First of all, the scoreboard hanging in the middle will be dismantled and now replaced by a four-sided LED video board. The team will be more comfortable with introductory sessions and it will be much easier to keep track of the different sports competing in Carmichael. Finally, the center scorer table will also match its Smith Center counterpart and receive an LED lineup. So you can count on advertisements and game information during the game.

It may not seem like much, but each facility upgrade brings each Carolina sport to its contemporaries, giving the event a greater feel. Because of the flexibility offered, you can expect timeouts, halftimes, and certain big plays to look completely different. Whether at home or in person, the difference is hard to miss.

However, I have to think about it every time I see these big light displays that basically look like the lights are turning off and on again

Congratulations on your age if you get this reference.

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