On Friday, Tennessee Athletics Director Phillip Fulmer provided an update to Tennessee’s plans to renovate Neyland Stadium.
The original plans were approved in 2017 under the guidance of then-AD John Currie, but Fulmer announced the plans were being put on ice as they conducted a full review to ensure the scope and full costs of the renovations were in line with what the university felt was needed.
That review has been concluded, and new plans are in place to renovate Neyland Stadium.
The updated plan meets the requirements from the previous Board of Trustee approval and 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 via a release. “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.”
The intent of the renovations are to “enhance the fan experience for the entire community in attendance on gamedays.” Here’s a look at the main goals of the renovations:
- Design a stadium exterior integrated into the campus fabric that embraces the objectives of the Campus Masterplan and the established architectural language of the university
- Build new entry plazas in the southwest and southeast that create a cohesive exterior architecture while consolidating stadium entry for easier access, improved security and operational control
- Expand the main south concourse to improve safety, functionality and fan comfort
- Improve restrooms to comply with modern standards for number of fixtures, accessibility and ease of use by patrons
- Increase the quantity of concession stands in the south end of the stadium while also upgrading food and beverage quality, selection and availability
- Develop an on-site kitchen and commissary to enable catering service to designated points throughout the stadium
- Create new and diverse seating alternatives and gathering spaces
- Upgrade technology infrastructure and capabilities throughout the stadium—specifically addressing sound quality along with digital video displays
The first plan of action for the renovations is upgrading Neyland’s sound system. The stadium’s sound system will be replaced and significantly upgraded 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 said.
After the sound system comes renovations to The Lauricella Center for Letter Winners and the Wolf-Kaplan Hospitality Center. Those renovations will also include the conversion of fifth-level media facilities on the stadium’s west side into a unique, open-air donor lounge. These renovations are projected to be finished by the fall of 2021 — the centennial celebration of Neyland Stadium.
Before the fall of 2022, Neyland Stadium will be outfitted with an additional large videoboard. Right now, the stadium just has one Jumbotron, but the renovations plan to construct a second one on the north side of the stadium. The updated plans also call for the completion of main level-one south concourse renovations and the rebuilding of the lower-west-side seating deck.
Tennessee then plans to unveil two redefining and fan-engaging plazas at Gate 4 and Gate 10 of the stadium by the fall of 2023. The plaza at Gate 10 will feature a signature indoor/outdoor gathering space and amenity area serving select food and beverages.
The overall exterior design aims to dramatically improve pedestrian traffic and stadium ingress and egress flow.
The updated project remains within the $180 million budget that was approved by the Board of Trustees in November of 2017. These renovations will continue to be made possible by a funding model that does not require any state funds or subsidies.
But Neyland Stadium isn’t the only part of Tennessee’s football program receiving an upgrade.
Per the new plans, the Anderson Training Center will also be getting enhancements.
Right now, the athletic department at UT is still in the design stage of the project for the Anderson Training Center, but the early plans include the development of a state-of-the-art recovery area, a new players’ lounge, and additional square footage for football program use. The practice locker room for the football team will also get a complete face lift in this plan.
“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 head football coach Jeremy Pruitt said via a release. “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.”
With the updated renovation plans for Neyland Stadium now figured out, Fulmer will turn his attention to all of Tennessee’s other sports. Plans for renovations and upgrades in those areas are on the horizon.
“With a solid road map 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,” Fulmer said.
Here are some renderings of the projected Neyland Stadium renovations: