Apr 11, 2024 - News

What's next for the Dean Dome

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 28: A general view of the tip-off between the Syracuse Orange and the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at the Dean E. Smith Center on February 28, 2022 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

UNC tips-off against the Syracuse Orange at the Dean E. Smith Center in 2022. Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Chapel Hill's Dean E. Smith Center could be slated for a significant overhaul — or it could be moved to a new site entirely, according to plans from university officials.

Why it matters: The Smith Center, colloquially known as the Dean Dome, has been the home of University of North Carolina basketball and one of the biggest college basketball arenas in the country since it opened in 1986.

Yes, but: What was state-of-the-art in 1986 could be considered out of date in 2024, when luxury boxes and expansive concourses are considered must-have amenities.

Driving the news: UNC put out a request for qualifications in February asking for consultants to assess the potential of building a new stadium and facilities for its men's and women's basketball programs, per WRAL.

  • The request asks for consults to look at the potential of three to five different sites for a stadium, both on and off campus in Chapel Hill.
  • It notes a desire to bring additional development around the stadium that could generate revenue as well.
  • The school is also considering renovating the existing stadium.

Zoom in: The Dean Dome, with its 21,750 seats, is the fourth-largest college basketball arena in the country, according to the NCAA.

What they're saying: "Our goal is to create the best experience possible for Tar Heel student-athletes and fans while potentially generating more revenue for the Department and enhancing the University community," a UNC athletics spokesperson told Axios in a statement.

  • The spokesperson did not address what the project would mean for the women's basketball team, which currently plays at Carmichael Arena.
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