Major revamp of Neyland Stadium in the offing


University of Tennessee - Neyland Stadium Image: University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee has announced its latest redecoration plan for the 102,000-seat Neyland Stadium in US. The varsity also plans to recondition the Anderson Training Center, the football complex for the Vols.

It was in November 2017 that nod was given to refurbish the South and East sides of Neyland Stadium. However, the project did not take off after Phillip Fulmer took over as Athletic Director. He thought it wise to conduct a full review of the plan.

As per Tennessee, the main objective behind the revised plans is to give fans an enriching experience. The whole revamp work will be done within the initial budget of $180 million. The funding pattern will be private contributions, thus ruling out use of State or federal funds.

The sprucing up work began in fall this year with the addition of new LED ribbon boards. The development work will be done in phases each year through 2023.

Tennessee has not divulged as to what the new capacity of Neyland Stadium will be. There is no confirmation as yet if the current number 102,455 will change. Previous Tennessee administrations have vowed to keep the capacity over 100,000.

The decision to pause the renovations process gave ample time to the project team to do a detailed examination of the project and confirm the scope elements and financial model associated with the project. The review has helped in adopting a well-balanced design approach following a brainstorming session. The aim is to meet a broader list of project goals and give an exalted experience to fans on game days.

Project Goals

  • The exterior of the venue should be so designed that it blends into the campus fabric and follows in entirety the objectives of the campus master plan and the established architectural language of the university;
  • New entry plazas will be built in the southwest and southeast to enable the exterior architecture to stick together as a whole while enabling easy stadium access, tighter security and operational control;
  • To give fans a rich experience, raised safety standards, and functionality, the main south concourse will have to be expanded to make more room;
  • The restrooms should be made state-of-the-art for ease of use by patrons;
  • The number of concession stands in the south end of the stadium should be increased while also making more gourmet food available. Best of beverages should also be on offer;
  • Setting up an on-site kitchen and food store to facilitate catering service to selected points throughout the arena;
  • Create various seating options and gathering spaces; and
  • Sharpen technology infrastructure and capabilities in the venue with special attention to acoustics along with digital video displays.

The enhanced plan meets the criteria laid down by the previous Board of Trustee who had also given their assent to the same. It also outlines specific improvement outcomes from 2019 through 2023.

“I appreciate the patience of our fans and donors as we’ve worked through a very thorough review of our plans to start preparing Neyland Stadium for its next 100 years of service,” Fulmer said. “I’m very pleased about where we’ve landed. It was important to me that the earliest work of the upcoming renovations focused on areas that impacted the fan experience for everyone in the stadium,” he further stated.

This fall, fans visiting Neyland Stadium have experienced a new, 360-degree LED ribbon board. To keep their spirits up, the fans were also given the opportunity to buy alcoholic beverages. To provide spectators an elevated experience, all the cushioned seats were replaced for the more than 15,000 ticket holders who take advantage of that opportunity.

More prowesses will be added to the stadium’s sound system prior to the 2020 football season.

“After addressing what we identified as immediate and key enhancements for all of our fans stadium-wide, the renovations then transition to other important features that will positively impact program recruiting and fan comfort and enjoyment,” Fulmer added.

Upgrades for the fall of 2021 – the stadium’s hundredth anniversary – includes modernization of The Lauricella Center for Letter Winners and Wolf-Kaplan Hospitality Center.

An open-air donor lounge will be available for newsmen with the conversion of fifth-level media facilities on the stadium’s west side. Due to this upgrade, the working press’s facilities will be repositioned on game days to the stadium’s east side. It will be closer to the Stokely Family Media Center. In the current west-side location, broadcast media – TV and radio crews—will be located.

By the fall of 2022, the reform plans will facilitate the completion of main level-one south concourse renovations, the addition of a
north-side video board and the rebuilding of the lower-west-side seating deck.

The renovation works will end in the fall of 2023 when Tennessee unveils two redefining and fan-engaging plazas at Gate 4 and Gate 10. The highlight of Gate 10 is a signature indoor/outdoor gathering space and amenity area serving select food and beverages.

The upgrade to the overall exterior design will help in boosting pedestrian traffic and streamline entry and exit to the venue.

Anderson Training Center Upgrades

Apart from the impending upgrades to the Neyland Stadium, expansion and improvement of Tennessee’s football facilities at Anderson Training Center (ATC) also are on the horizon.

Athletic Department officials are chalking out the design of the project the main features of which are an avant-garde recovery area, a new players’ lounge and additional square footage for football program use.

A complete spruce-up of the football practice locker room will be part of the ATC project.

“I’ve asked our administration to help us enhance what we do to support the well-being of our student-athletes, and these upgrades deliver the very best for our players,” Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt remarked.

“The spaces we’re creating enable Tennessee to stay on the leading edge from a facility and support standpoint. It’s exciting, and I appreciate the time and effort that coach Fulmer and his staff have dedicated to this critical piece,” added Pruitt.

Fulmer made it clear that he is firm on ensuring that Tennessee’s other sport programs also stand out at the national level.

“With a solid roadmap in place for Neyland Stadium and our football program, we must now turn our attention to developing a facility master plan that is comprehensive of all athletic facilities and develop a course of action to ensure that all of our more than 500 student-athletes have what they need to compete at the highest level.”

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