Tennessee varsity mixed-use project plans


University of Tennessee planning a new destination beside Neyland Stadium Image: University of Tennessee

As Tennessee Athletics continues to aggressively pursue its mission of leading the way in college sports, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White has initiated the exploration of a public-private partnership aimed at the development of a first-in-class entertainment district spanning the Tennessee River waterfront near the historic Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee, US.

‘University of Tennessee’ quoted Danny White, the Director of Athletics, as stating, “Innovation is at the forefront of everything we do. The ideation of this new Neyland Entertainment District exemplifies that mindset. This is a massive project that has the potential to positively impact the entire City. We are eager to see what world-class developers dream up to creatively maximize this extraordinary market opportunity. The University of Tennessee has the capacity for constructing an entertainment ecosystem that doesn’t presently exist anywhere across the collegiate landscape.”

The Tennessee Volunteers and Lady Volunteers are the 20 male and female varsity intercollegiate athletics programs that represent the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee, US.

The University of Tennessee is a public land-grant research university in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. Founded in 1794, two years before Tennessee became the 16th State, it is the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee system, with 10 undergraduate colleges and 11 graduate colleges.

The Neyland Stadium is a sports stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. It serves primarily as the home of the Tennessee Volunteers football team, but is also used to host large conventions and has been a site for several National Football League (NFL) exhibition games. The stadium’s official capacity is 101,915.

‘University of Tennessee’ stated that anchored by a planned hotel adjacent to the stadium’s South end, the mixed-use Neyland Entertainment District could uniquely enhance the Tennessee football gameday experience while also transforming the campus riverfront and supplementing Knoxville’s array of gathering centers with yet another attractive leisure and entertainment hub.

One of the unique elements of the Neyland Entertainment District is the connectivity and proximity to two of Tennessee’s iconic venues -the Neyland Stadium and the 21,678-capacity Thompson-Boling Arena. The proposed Neyland Entertainment District location allows the ability to service and tie the two facilities together.

The university’s initial concept for the project – which would improve the aesthetics of Neyland Stadium’s exterior façade and strengthen the campus’s connection with the Tennessee River – includes a boutique, full-service hotel with for-sale condominiums and conference/event space. The vision also features the potential development of a “tabletop” above the existing G10 parking garage to support additional tailgating, restaurants, retail, and family-friendly entertainment activities.

A hotel development with height of approximately 12 stories (or 168 feet) would allow for a rooftop bar or amenity space overlooking the stadium. At 12 stories, the site can accommodate approximately 215,000 gross square feet (GSF) of space for hotel units, condominiums, meeting/event space, food and beverage, and other/amenity spaces.

The vision for this element of the project includes adding a tabletop or cap to the Neyland Parking Garage (i.e., ‘G10 Garage’), which is adjacent to the hotel site, to support additional tailgating, retail, and entertainment activities, as well as provide premium views of the adjacent waterfront. This retail and entertainment district would also help engage the Thompson-Boling Arena as part of the initiative, which is on grade with the top level of the G10 Garage.

The 21,678-capacity Thompson-Boling Arena is a multipurpose arena on the campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee, US. The arena opened in 1987. It is home to the Tennessee Volunteers and Lady Vols basketball teams. Since 2008, it has been home to the Lady Vols volleyball team.

Entertainment District Concepts

Public-private partnerships (PPPs or P3s) are a mechanism for the Government to procure and implement public infrastructure and/or services using the resources and expertise of the private sector. The PPPs combine the skills and resources of both the public and private sectors through sharing of risks and responsibilities, which often fosters efficient solutions.

Welcome to Rocky Top

  • Greater Knoxville is situated at the crossroads of three major interStates, I-75, I-40 and I-81 in the center of Tennessee’s East grand division. The City is located within one day’s drive of half the nation’s population;
  • Knoxville is within an eight-hour drive of Asheville, Atlanta, Charleston (S.C.), Charlotte, Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Louisville (Ky.), Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.;
  • Knoxville was one of the nation’s top five booking markets in the first half of 2022, alongside Atlanta, Nashville, Washington, D.C., and New York City; and
  • Knoxville features multiple unique micro-market gathering centers, including The Strip, The Old City, Market Square, Bearden, Turkey Creek, and others.

Observed Donde Plowman, Chancellor, University of Tennessee, “The Neyland Stadium has always been known for having one of the best gameday environments in college football. We love to welcome Vol Nation to campus on Saturdays in the Fall. This project has the potential to create a year-round destination that engages the Tennessee River waterfront and enhances the campus and our community.”

Remarked Randy Boyd, University of Tennessee President, “This public-private partnership opportunity will enhance the look and atmosphere of the Neyland Stadium and the Knoxville campus while creating an additional destination for the City of Knoxville, all without State funding.”

Neyland Stadium

The centerpiece of this grand vision, the Neyland Stadium, stands as one of the most iconic venues in global sport. It is the eighth-largest stadium in the world – sixth among venues in its category- boasting a capacity of 101,915. The Neyland Stadium is surrounded by key ingredients to unlocking a first-in-class mixed-use entertainment district.

Recent decades have brought six-figure expansion, development of innovative premium-seating sections and stadium wide amenity enhancements. Efforts to prepare Neyland Stadium for its next century of service continue thanks to a comprehensive stadium master plan fueled by the My All Campaign.

Other recent stadium enhancements include the introduction of new lower-West club and upper-North social deck spaces, the restoration of the historic V-O-L-S letters along the top of the facility’s South end and a second videoboard on the upper-North deck.

The University Of Tennessee Board Of Trustees in June of 2022 approved Tennessee Athletics’ request to adjust the scope and budget of the ongoing Neyland Stadium renovations project originally approved in 2017. That approval brought the overall Phase I budget to $288 million, which will be fully funded.

Vol Nation

  • UT Knoxville has experienced a 17-percent growth in enrollment over the last five years;
  • The university is bolstered by a robust and engaged alumni base exceeding 260,000;
  • The University of Tennessee’s annual impact on the State economy is $1.7 billion;
  • The Tennessee Athletics is a globally recognized and respected brand featuring one of the most tradition-rich, championship-laden histories in college sports; and
  • Tennessee’s passionate and loyal fan base supports the Vols and Lady Vols at elite levels, with UT’s ticketed sports consistently ranking among the national leaders in average home attendance.

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