Neyland Stadium construction June 2006
June 19, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - With only 11 weeks left until Tennessee's football season opener, construction continues at Neyland Stadium.
Phase I of an estimated $107 million renovation project is slated to be complete by Sept. 2 when the Volunteers host California.
The first phase will cost about $24 million and includes the construction of 414 club seats underneath the skyboxes above sections AA through FF and the widening of the north end zone concourse inside Gate 21.
Construction began after last season, and so far it is on schedule.
"Yep, we're in good shape," project manager Bill Gardner of Johnson & Galyon contractors said during a tour with reporters on Monday.
The new club seating includes an indoor common area where meals will be served and fans can congregate around televisions. The construction meant the removal of about 2,400 bleacher seats.
Seating capacity of the stadium will drop from 104,079, but Neyland will remain the third-largest in the nation with a little over 102,000 seats. The capacity will fluctuate during the entire renovation project as seats are removed and others added.
Fans entering the stadium from the main gate on the north side will see a big change in appearance. The concourse has been widened from 10 feet to 30 feet. There are more restrooms for women and new family restrooms.
The concession stands are being rebuilt with a brick-looking facade and arched windows above the counters. The concrete blocks are brick red, gray and dark gray and give the more polished look of some of the newly built stadiums around the country.
The concourse will have chilled water fountains "for hot September afternoon games," athletic director Mike Hamilton said. The old ones spouted tepid or even warm water.
Petro's will continue to have a stand on the concourse. New concessions will include chicken and Texas Roadhouse selections. A new 2,800-square-foot team store has been built inside the gate area.
These improvements are being paid for through $22 million in donations generated through the sale of the club seats. Other private gifts and donations from former grandfathered ticket holders also have helped bring in $54.5 million for the entire renovation project.
Donations of at least $50,000 over five years for capital improvements are required for club seat owners. They also must pay $4,000 annually per seat to cover the cost of tickets, a parking pass and meals.
All the seats have been bought, and there is a waiting list.
The hospitality area will feature a square of nine televisions on one wall that can either show separate programs or broadcast as one giant screen. The back wall of windows overlooks Fort Loudoun Lake, where the Vol Navy docks for game days.
Hamilton called it a "spectacular view," but he hopes the view of the field will be more entertaining.
"Hopefully, most people will be watching what's on the other side of the club seats," he said.
University of Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton announced Monday that Phase I of the Neyland Stadium master plan is right on time.
UTAD began Phase I of the renovations on Neyland Stadium in January. This is the first major addition to occur at Neyland Stadium since the addition of the east skyboxes for the 2000 season.
Although many of the first phase improvements will not be visible to fans - such as much needed improvements to basic infrastructure amenities such as water, electric and sewer throughout the stadium - fans will begin to see examples of what the full project will do for the stadium in the concourse areas near gate 21, which will feature wider concourses, new and renovated restrooms as well as new concession stands for the 2006 season.
Phase I will also include the addition of the East Club, which is a primary funding source for the renovations. The East Club will feature 414 outdoor theater-style seats under cover, a large adjoining indoor hospitality club room with private restrooms, pre-game and half-time buffets, tables and couches for relaxing and several flat screen televisions to catch up on other games from across the SEC and nation. Club seats will be available for donors who take a leadership role in the Neyland Stadium renovations. UT currently has commitments for all of the East Side Club seats, securing $22 million in funding for the Neyland Stadium renovations. UTAD is establishing a waiting list for the East Side Club seats.
Tennessee has already secured private gifts and revenue covering $54.55 million of the Neyland Stadium project. This includes $21.55 million in outright contributions and new annual revenue covering debt service capital of $33 million. These annual revenues include club seat annual gifts and revenue from the grandfathered ticket change in 2004.
"Neyland Stadium holds a special place in the hearts of Tennessee fans everywhere. Over the past 80 years, it has grown to become one of America's greatest football stadiums," said Mike Hamilton, men's athletics director. "I believe these renovations will enhance the fan experience for years to come."
In November 2004, UTAD unveiled its master plan for Neyland Stadium, which will serve as a long-term solution to issues currently facing Neyland Stadium and prepare the stadium for the next 75 years.
"When beginning the research and design for Neyland Stadium, we took into account the heritage of Tennessee football to distinguish our top priorities," said Hamilton. "We wanted to maintain the collegiate integrity of the stadium, take a fiscally responsible approach to renovations, improve and modernize concourses, bathrooms and concession areas for all UT fans, provide infrastructure for basic amenities, and enhance safety while addressing the ADA compliance issues currently facing the stadium."
Renovations will be completed in five phases beginning after the 2005 football schedule during the off-seasons to reduce inconveniences on fans. The renovations should take approximately 10 to 12 years to complete, provided funding is available.
Before beginning the master plan, UTAD visited six stadiums across the country that is similar in age to Neyland. The department also received feedback from more than 3,000 fans through an online survey.
The long-term master plan will improve the Neyland Stadium experience for all fans while enhancing safety and security. The improvements include:
· Renovation and widening of concourse areas to assist in traffic flow and make fans' experience more enjoyable
· Addition of family restrooms
· Increase in the current number of women's restroom facilities by almost 300 percent
· Addition of concession stands
· Creation of entry plazas
· Addition of club seats
· Update of the infrastructure for water, electric and sewer systems.
Numerous ADA issues also have been addressed to improve access for all fans, including the addition of nine elevators.
The master plan was created in a phased approach. Each phase is independent to ensure that funding is available for each phase before it begins.
Several specific revenue streams were designated to fund the future of Neyland Stadium and the continuance of Tennessee's prominence on the national stage. Funding sources for the estimated $107 million project include philanthropic gifts and bonds to be serviced by a combination of annual athletics department revenues. The addition of club seating will be a major funding source for the renovations, providing more that $34 million in private gifts and over $3 million in annual revenue toward improvements. Funds generated from the 2004 sideline seating policy change also will be used for the renovations.
For more information on the master plan, log onto utsports.com.
The University of Tennessee athletics department is one of less than 10 departments in the country that receives no funds from state subsidies or taxes.
NEYLAND STADIUM PHASE I RENOVATIONS KEY POINTS
Interesting Facts about the Renovation:
Phase 1 of the Neyland Stadium Master Plan includes:
- Approximately 500,000 feet or 94 miles of power and low voltage cable installed
- Approximately 200,000 feet or 38 miles of conduit
- Approximately 658 tons of steel
- Approximately 76,700 cement blocks