The University of Tennessee’s Board of Trustees has approved a request from its athletics department to adjust the scope and budget of the ongoing Neyland Stadium renovation project.
The project was originally approved in 2017 but the plans were put on hold. Tennessee Athletics provided updated plans for the renovation of the 102,000-seat stadium back in November 2019 but little progress has been made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vice-chancellor and director of athletics Danny White and his leadership have conducted a detailed review of the project and identified new strategic priorities aimed at delivering an enhanced experience for fans through “impactful and resourceful” modifications.
The revised project requires a total budget increase of $108m (£88.1m/€102.2m), resulting in an overall Phase 1 budget of $288m, which will be fully funded. The estimated total budget at the time of the 2017 approval was $340m.
A key remaining element in the new plan is major and necessary upgrades to the south side and perimeter of the stadium, including the widening of concourses, construction of expanded gates and entryways, and provision of additional restrooms and concessions areas.
The project will continue ongoing renovations, which include new amenities delivered for the upcoming season, and will provide annual deliverables through an anticipated project completion date of autumn 2026.
Adjustments from the 2017 plan to the revised plan include a stadium-wide Wi-Fi network, the additional of two sets of ‘VOLS’ (Volunteers) letters, new spacious suites and a lounge, restrooms at highly-trafficked areas, additional food and beverage services and tiered seating in the upper north plaza area, and updated skyboxes.
The revised project also includes expanded plaza entries and extended exterior concourse zones, as well as brick cladding for vomitories and a Gate 11 ramp. The Phase 1 project will include an expansion of the south stand, LED ribbon board replacement and a new state-of-the-art sound system.
Elements that have been removed or held for future evaluation or phases include an expansion of the south concourse and outdoor patio and social gathering areas.
White said: “I appreciate the Board of Trustees for understanding and supporting our revised plan and budget, which will ultimately allow for a significantly enhanced game-day experience for every fan throughout Neyland Stadium.
“We’ve done a great deal of listening and learning over the past 18 months, and our fans have been instrumental in helping to shape the vision for the future of one of the most iconic sporting venues in the world.
“Through our evaluation process, we also developed a new business philosophy prioritising project elements that generate revenue. That will enable us to invest in key amenities that impact our entire fan base, such as enhanced Wi-Fi, larger concourses, nicer restrooms and more.”
Image: University of Tennessee