For all the improvements made to the Kenan Stadium infrastructure over the last decade—first a new video board in the east end zone in 2003 and then the opening of the Loudermilk Center For Excellence in 2011—there was one thing that struck Brent Milgrom as being out of place.
“You couldn’t see the American flag,” he says.
Milgrom, a Tar Heel defensive end and Letterman in 1965-66, has season tickets on the upper deck of the home side on the east end of the stadium, nearest to the old Kenan Field House and today the side of the “Blue Zone.” Several years ago, he began finding it difficult to locate the flag when the Star Spangled Banner was played pre-game.
“The American flag seemed to get lost to me and to a lot of people around me,” says Milgrom, originally from Rocky Mount and today a commercial real estate developer in Charlotte. “It was the same size as the ACC school flags and the North Carolina state flag. It just didn’t seem to be prominent enough. I sat in the Pope Box for the Florida State game in 2009 and couldn’t even find the flag during our national anthem.”
An idea took root at that time and on Saturday for the home opener against Middle Tennessee, Tar Heel fans saw the result of Milgrom’s initiative to position a larger flag in a more prominent position. Milgrom contributed enough funds to the Rams Club to pay for construction of a base, installation of a 70-foot pole and acquisition of a large flag. The new flag has been positioned just inside Gate 3 at the northwest corner of Kenan Stadium, between the Kenan Football Center and the north side upper deck.
From inside the stadium, fans can see the American flag, surrounded by pine trees with the Bell Tower in the background.
“I think it will be quieter, less cluttered, a more appropriate position for the flag,” Milgrom says. “To see the greenery of the trees and then see one of our most honored monuments, the Bell Tower, in the same view as the American flag, I think will be a proper way to display it. It’s a setting the flag deserves during the Star Spangled Banner.”
“This was a very important issue with Brent and it became an important issue with me as well,” says Don McCauley, a Major Gifts Director at the Rams Club and its liason with Football Lettermen. “He put a lot of thought and vision into it. At one point, we were looking at an option to have the flag above the Blue Zone. But Brent felt very strongly that was too ‘busy’ a location, there would be too much movement around the flag. And what prettier a spot to have the flag than to have a view of the Bell Tower as well? This was a case where the donor and the University worked together and found the best outcome.”
The flag’s debut preceded the Tar Heels’ 40-20 win over Middle Tennessee. Milgrom was out of the country on vacation and looks forward to seeing the flag in person later this month.