CHARLOTTE—The Charlotte 49ers are now a part of history. Several years of planning and hard work led to this inaugural football game at Jerry Richardson Stadium.
"It's going to be a spectacular day," UNC-Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois said. "Seven long years of planning and execution comes down to today."
A sold-out, standing-room only crowd of more than 16,630 watched history in the making. Tailgating started shortly after sunrise and thousands of students waited a couple of hours for the gates to open to watch this first ever game against the Campbell Camels.
Shortly after Dubois arrived at the University, he made it his mission to start a football program.
"Details of getting this thing done really have been all consuming, so it's good today to just step back and let it happen," Dubois said.
Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson arrived at the stadium to hundreds of students shouting his name. He was instrumental in helping to start the program. The stadium is named after him.
"It's a wonderful day for us," Richardson said. "I think we see the enthusiasm and why the University should have a football program. It makes me proud to be associated with it."
The team stormed out onto the field in a haze of fireworks. It didn't take long for the fireworks to be shown on the field. The team scored on an interception return just: 46 seconds into the game.
Fans screamed, "Best game ever!"
The team won its first ever game 52-7. It was victory not just for the team, but for the community as a whole.
"The most important thing was to give our students a complete experience in college, re-engage our alumni and find a way to connect to the community. Judging from this point, we hit all three right on the head," Dubois said.
As the clock ticked zero, hundreds of students and alumni stormed the field to celebrate with the team.
The team will play Chowan Saturday, Sept. 7 at noon.