Memphis Tigers den transmuting rejig plans



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University of Memphis unveils details for Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium revamp Image: Memphis Athletics and Populous

Memphis Athletics (University of Memphis’s athletic programs) has announced updated plans and timelines for the transformative renovation of the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee (US), which will help propel the stadium and Memphis Football into the forefront of the college football landscape.

‘gotigersgo.com’ stated that work is set to begin in May with completion anticipated prior to the start of the 2026 Memphis Football season.

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, originally named the Memphis Memorial Stadium, and later the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, is a football stadium located at the former Mid-South Fairgrounds in the Midtown area of Memphis, Tennessee, United States.

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. The Tigers play in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) as an all-sports member. They play their home games at the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.

University of Memphis unveils details for Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium revampImage: Memphis Athletics and Populous

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 and one in Canada. It also organizes the athletic programs of colleges and helps over 500,000 college student athletes who compete annually in college sports.

The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as the Division I-A, is the highest level of college football in the United States. The FBS consists of the largest schools in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). As of the 2024 season, there are 10 Conferences and 134 schools in FBS.

Irving (US)-based the American Athletic Conference (AAC), also known as the American, is a collegiate athletic Conference in the United States featuring 14 full-member universities and 8 affiliate member universities that compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division I, with its football teams competing in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The member universities represent a range of private and public universities of various enrollment sizes located primarily in urban metropolitan areas in the Northeastern, Midwestern and the Southern regions of the United States.

Opined Laird Veatch, University of Memphis Vice-President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, “The elements of this renovation represent a game-changing opportunity for our fans, our football program and our Athletic Department. The experience over the next two seasons is going to be different, and there may be some growing pains for a short period of time, but this renovation truly represents transformational growth. We are incredibly grateful to our leadership donors for their tremendous early response to matching the Fred Smith Family challenge pledge, which has already led to over $16 million in gift commitments including nine in the seven-figures. There has never been a better time to invest in Memphis Athletics, and we are confident the response will continue as people see how this renovation will set up all of Memphis for future success. From on-field winning, to facility improvements, to academic success, to community engagement, there is no doubt we are better positioned than perhaps we have ever been.”

University of Memphis unveils details for Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium revampImage: Memphis Athletics and Populous

The Fred Smith Family has made the largest donation in the university’s history to renovate the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, where the football team plays its home games. The family pledged $50 million to the project.

Fred Smith is the Founder and Chairman of FedEx Corporation, the world’s largest transportation company.

‘gotigersgo.com’ further stated that Memphis Athletics, alongside the University’s Auxiliary Services Foundation, is committing to a $220 million investment and approaching the renovation in phases, allowing work to begin as quickly as possible while securing the necessary funding for the subsequent phases. Initially, Memphis is moving forward with the first two phases at an estimated cost of $195 million.

Memphis and firms Populous (a global architectural and design practice specializing in sports facilities, arenas and convention centers and based in Kansas City), Barton Malow (a construction company that offers services like architecture, design build and pre-construction and is based in Southfield, Michigan) and MFA (a Memphis-based joint venture created to meet a growing need for trusted Project Managers with thorough understanding of the building process), in addition to the local partners brg3s (a construction company in Memphis, Tennessee, that specializes in design and engineering), Grinder Taber & Grinder (a commercial and industrial construction firm in Memphis, Tennessee) and the Allworld Project Management (AWPM – a civil engineering firm based in Memphis that provides project and program management services for the public and private sector clients), are designing the project to the full three-phase cost of $220 million.
 

The phases are initially projected as follows:

 

Phase 1

Includes: Renovation of the existing East Side Suite Level Two to accommodate moving media and gameday operations from their current West Side location to prepare for Phase 2, as well as other general upkeep, deferred maintenance and site prep elements.

Timeline and Cost: May 2024 with completion prior to football season; $8-10 million.
 

Phase 2

Includes: Transformation of the stadium’s West Side to dramatically improve the look of the stadium and provide several modern-day premium seating options (including Founders’ Suites, Founders’ Loge Boxes and additional private suites), create a unique interior ‘party plaza’ area for all fans and begin initial perimeter and halo upgrades to create a hospitality space around the stadium.

Anticipated Start: As soon as possible in the 2024 calendar year, upon securing the necessary funds initially estimated to be the first $25 million of the matching funds needed to meet the Smith Family’s challenge pledge.
 

Phase 3

Potential Elements: Locker room expansion and upgrades, any remaining perimeter, halo and concourse upgrades, other seating enhancements and North end tunnel renovation allowing production access for large-scale events such as concerts.

Anticipated Start: Upon securing the necessary funds, initially estimated to be the second $25 million of the matching funds needed to meet the Smith Family’s challenge pledge.

Added Veatch, “From the start of this process back in May 2022, our primary goals have been to optimize our position in the rapidly evolving landscape of intercollegiate athletics, demonstrate our commitment to sustainable competitive and recruiting success and upgrade the fan experience. When this renovation is finished, we will have achieved all of this and then some. We cannot wait to share more benchmarks as this process continues, and we appreciate ‘Tiger Nation’s’ ‘all-in’ commitment as we evolve together.”

Due to stadium construction work, all the West Side suites, a portion of the East Side suites, the Stadium Club and all the non-chairback (bleacher) seats between Sections 129-132 and 101-109 will be unavailable for the 2024 and 2025 football seasons. The chairback seats on the West Side of the venue will not be impacted during the construction phase. The affected season ticket holders will go through a seat selection process this Summer, with more details to follow.

The stadium capacity during the 2024 and 2025 Memphis Football seasons is anticipated to be in the low-30,000s, and capacity after renovations are complete is estimated to be approximately 50,000.

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