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

The latest trend is LED lighting that can create all sorts of effects, and the major venues on campus are about to get them.

Western Carolina v North Carolina Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

If by some chance you’ve been walking in the neighborhood of Kenan Stadium this summer and wondered “what is up with all these construction trucks?” Well, the answer is related to Carmichael Arena and the Smith Center.

Carolina has decided it’s time to move all of their venues to the new LED lighting setup that you’re starting to see at other stadiums. Besides being more energy efficient because they use Light-Emitting Diodes instead of mostly Halogen elements , they also all have the ability to be harnessed and programmed to do more than just provide white light at the stadium.

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

And finally, our neighbors down the road have it as well, and you can start to see what happens when they score a touchdown.

You can do a lot with these lights. You can simply have them circle around in a pattern to celebrate a score, you can instantly turn them off to create a mood, or you can change their color in order both. Carter-Finley, in fact, got the upgrades in time for them to have some fun with the lights during the NHL Stadium Series game this past February, and it added to the overall vibe of the event.

2023 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series - Raleigh - Washington Capitals v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images

The “other uses” part is important here, as the lighting upgrades are being done just in time for the Chelsea/Wrexham friendly that’s due to happen later this month. UNC fans will get their first peek at what the lights will do in celebration, during anthems, and any other mood they want to set. Then, come September 9th, the full effect will be ready to go for the 5:15 PM kickoff against Appalachian State. With the normal game time going 3.5 hours, the game will end after sunset and the full capability of the lights will be on display.

Running into the stadium at night, touchdowns, and the 4th quarter hype combo of “Hell’s Bells/Can’t be Touched” are about to look a lot different when you’re at the stadium.

Even if you are at home, though, things will look different. UNC alum James Gilbert has been on the lighting change for a while, and did a quick tweet to show how folks at home should expect to see how things will be different next year:

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

As noted, though, Kenan isn’t the only place to get a lighting change. What clued fans in on the fact that something different was coming was a simple construction bid post, dated near the end of the basketball season. While UNC hasn’t made this upgrade to the Smith Center official, there’s an interesting note imbedded in the request: “Light Performance shall exceed NCAA National Championship final site criteria.”

This is an interesting note since the Smith Center opening has been accomplished by using fans’ cell phones timed with the music. Everyone’s cell phone flashlight comes on as the music and the highlights play, creating the illusion that it’s synched. The problem for anyone who has GONE to a game is that when you put that many people in one place, cell service isn’t the best and not everyone can get their phone to work.

It appears that Carolina is looking to have the lights inside the Smith Center accomplish something cool during intros now that wouldn’t require fans to bring out their cell phones. Since the tip-off isn’t until November, expect Carolina to put something out there officially before then.

Finally, Carmichael Arena is going to get some of the same upgrades in lighting, as well as other appearance items. UNC announced this last week, and the timing couldn’t be better for a women’s program that not only has its eyes set on a National Championship, but will be welcoming in national power South Carolina as part of the ACC/SEC Challenge this season.

The release from Carolina talks about more than lights. For starters, the center hanging scoreboard is coming down and will now be replaced with a four-sided LED video board. There will be more the team can do with introductions, as well as keeping track of the various sports that compete in Carmichael a lot easier. The center scorer’s table will also finally match its Smith Center counterpart in becoming an LED set up, so expect to see advertisements during game play, along with game information.

It may not seem like much, but each facility upgrade brings each Carolina sport over into their contemporaries that create a bigger feel to the event. With the flexibility provided, expect timeouts, halftimes, and specific big plays to look vastly different. Whether at home or in person, it’ll be hard to miss the difference.

That said, anytime I see these big lighting displays that essentially look like they are turning lights off and on, I can’t help but to think of this

Congratulations on being old if you get that reference.