Funding for Memphis varsity sports projects


Funding package for Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium approved Image: University of Memphis

A $350 million allocation to the City of Memphis for renovations to the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee (US), home of the Memphis Tiger football program, and the FedExForum in Memphis, home of Memphis Tiger men’s basketball and the National Basketball Association’s (NBA’s) Memphis Grizzlies, as well as funding for construction of a new multiuse stadium for Memphis 901 FC has been approved as part of the State of Tennessee’s budget for the fiscal year 2024.

‘University of Memphis Athletics’ stated that the exact funding distribution to each project will be provided by the City at a later date as two additional pieces of legislation are still underway.

The University of Memphis is a public research university in Memphis, Tennessee (US). Founded in 1912, the university has an enrollment of more than 22,000 students.

The 58,325-capacity Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium is a football stadium located at the former Mid-South Fairgrounds in the Midtown area of Memphis, Tennessee, United States. It serves as the home of the Memphis Tigers football.

The Memphis Tigers football team represents the University of Memphis in college football in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The Tigers play in the American Athletic Conference as an all-sports member. They play their home games at the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. The team’s head coach is Ryan Silverfield.

The 19,000-capacity FedExForum is a multipurpose arena located in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee (US). It is the home of the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA and the NCAA Division I men’s basketball program of the University of Memphis, both of whom previously played home games at the 20,142-capacity Memphis Pyramid which has since closed down in the year 2004.

The Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team represents the University of Memphis in NCAA Division I men’s college basketball. The Tigers have competed in the American Athletic Conference since 2013. As of 2020, the Tigers had the 26th highest winning percentage in the NCAA history.

The Memphis Grizzlies are an American professional basketball team based in Memphis, Tennessee. The Grizzlies compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league’s Western Conference Southwest Division. The Grizzlies play their home games at the FedExForum.

The Memphis 901 FC is an American professional soccer team based in Memphis, Tennessee. Founded in 2018, the team made its debut in the United Soccer League (USL) Championship in 2019.

Indianapolis (US)-based the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student-athletics among about 1,100 schools in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

‘University of Memphis Athletics’ further stated that the stadium renovation design phase is currently well underway with construction slated to begin after the 2023 football season and completion anticipated by the start of the 2025 season.

The priority elements of the project include:

  • A transformation of the stadium’s West side, providing several innovative premium seating options;
  • Creating a hospitality experience within the halo space surrounding the stadium;
  • Multiple other fan experience improvements throughout the stadium such as restroom and concessions upgrades; and
  • A potential renovation of the East side.

Said Jim Strickland, City of Memphis Mayor, “For more than a year, we have methodically worked on this historic project for our City’s sports venues. We truly appreciate the support of the President of the University of Memphis, Dr. Bill Hardgrave, the University of Memphis Vice-President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Laird Veatch, and the University of Memphis for our efforts. Thanks to the Governor of Tennessee Bill Lee and his administration, Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee Randy McNally, Speaker Sexton, and the members of the legislature who have supported us through this process. Over the next few years, our sports venues will be dramatically improved and will hopefully be the catalyst needed to help the University move into a Power Five Conference (Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference, and the Southeastern Conference).”

Stated Dr. Hardgrave, “The University of Memphis is thankful to Governor Bill Lee and the State of Tennessee Legislature for the approval of Mayor Jim Strickland’s monumental request of $350 million to renovate both the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium and the FedExForum, which are leased by our Athletic Department.”

Added Dr. Hardgrave, “We are very grateful to the Governor for recognizing the much-needed improvements and including funds for the renovations in his budget. Our football and basketball programs, fans and overall athletics will benefit greatly from the state-of-the-art upgrades. Today (April 20th) is a monumental day for our Memphis Football future, our great City and the Tiger fans everywhere.”

Said Veatch, “A huge thank you to Governor Bill Lee and the State of Tennessee Legislature, as well as Mayor Jim Strickland and other City of Memphis leadership, for believing in our shared vision and recognizing the significant impact this transformational renovation to Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium will have on our University and the Mid-South as a whole. As we continue to position ourselves for the future of intercollegiate athletics, including potential Conference realignment opportunities, having a modern and first-class football stadium will be a great demonstration of our entire State’s commitment to seeing the University of Memphis elevate on a national scale.”

Stated Silverfield, “This is a fantastic day for the entire City of Memphis and our football program. We are so grateful for the collaborative effort from so many stakeholders from across our City and State. This tremendous news on the funding for our stadium will continue to put our program on a national stage.”

Additional details and the latest design renderings will be released as the design process continues over the coming months. Stadium seating will not be affected during the 2023 season, but significant impacts are anticipated as construction proceeds throughout 2024. A complete reseating process will take place prior to both the under-construction 2024 season and the 2025 season in the newly renovated Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.

The Memphis Athletics will be using a priority system for the 2024 and 2025 ticket re-seats. Fans can ensure they have the best access to 2025 tickets in the newly renovated stadium by purchasing 2023 football season tickets and renewing their Memphis Athletics Fund (MAF) contributions. Group numbers will lock on December 1st, 2023, and fans who do not maintain at the same level after the lock date for the 2025 season may fall lower in the priority order. The season ticket holder status is based on the 2023 seasons.

2024 and 2025 Seat Selection Groups:

  • Ambassador/Tiger Leadership Circle Member;
  • MAF Member + Football Season Ticket Holder;
  • Football Season Ticket Holder;
  • MAF Member + Men’s or Women’s Basketball Season Ticket Holder;
  • MAF Member;
  • Men’s or Women’s Basketball Season Ticket Holder; and
  • General Public.

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