UT Unveils $107.6 Million In Improvements At Neyland Stadium

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The University of Tennessee Athletics Department unveiled its $107.6 million master plan for Neyland Stadium Tuesday - to be carried out in five phases.

The master plan was commissioned in the spring to 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 Mike Hamilton, men's athletics director. "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 eight to 12 years to complete, provided funding is available.

Before beginning the master plan, UTAD visited six stadiums across the country that are 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.

"Neyland Stadium has served the University of Tennessee and the state well over the past 83 years," University of Tennessee President Dr. John Petersen said. "Mike Hamilton and his staff have put together a plan that will modernize and upgrade a facility that will serve us as well in the future as it has in the past."

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.

One key goal of the master plan was to find a way to fund the renovations without financially impacting all Tennessee fans. 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 than $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.

The 1,589 new club seats would go for a $15,000 capital gift each.

The club seats would include:

* Large, comfortable, padded outdoor seats under cover with access to a private indoor hospitality area featuring complimentary food and non-alcoholic beverages.
* Dedicated restroom facilities
* Elevator access to club level
* Recognition as a Club Level VASF donor which will provide opportunities for other donor benefits such as priority parking, priority for away game football tickets and bowl games, and men’s basketball season tickets and parking.

Officials said major goals for the project included:

Maintaining the collegiate integrity of the stadium and recognizing the heritage of Tennessee football
Taking a fiscally responsible approach to renovations
Improving and modernizing concourse, bathroom and concession areas for all UT fans
Providing infrastructure for basic amenities - water, electric and sewer
Enhancing safety and addressing ADA compliance issues

Before beginning the master plan, the athletic department visited six stadiums across the country that are similar in age to Neyland. They also received feedback from more than 3,000 fans through an online survey.

Athletic Director Hamilton issued this letter:

Dear Tennessee fan,

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.

Unfortunately the rich history and tradition of an 80 year-old football stadium are accompanied by problems such as small, cramped concourses, insufficient bathroom facilities, substandard concessions, and inadequate plumbing and electrical services. In order for the stadium to continue to be a thriving, viable and competitive structure, major renovations are needed.

In the spring of 2004, the University of Tennessee Athletics Department commissioned a master plan to address these concerns. We wanted a master plan that would prepare Neyland Stadium for the next 75 years while maintaining the collegiate integrity of the stadium and recognizing the heritage of Tennessee football in a fiscally responsible manner. Before beginning the master plan, we visited six stadiums across the country that are similar in age to Neyland Stadium. We also received feedback from more than 3,000 fans through an online survey. From our research, the master plan, which we presented today to the UT Board of Trustees, was created.

The long-term master plan will improve the Neyland Stadium experience for all fans while enhancing safety and security. The improvements include the renovation and widening of the concourse areas to assist in traffic flow and make all fans' experience more enjoyable, the addition of family restrooms, increasing the current number of restroom facilities by almost 300 percent, the addition of concession stands, the creation of entry plazas, the addition of club seats, the updating of the infrastructure for water, and electric and sewer systems. Numerous ADA issues have been addressed to improve access for all fans, including the addition of nine elevators.

The renovations to Neyland Stadium will be funded entirely through private donations, club seat revenue and additional contributions from the 2004 sideline seating policy change. The addition of club seating will be the primary funding source for the renovations, providing more than $34 million in private gifts and over $3 million in annual revenue to cover debt. Although the renovations will affect the location of some of our season tickets, all season ticket holders affected by the changes will be offered seats in other areas of the stadium.

If you have additional questions, feel free to e-mail me at askmike@utk.edu.

We appreciate your continued support as we prepare Neyland Stadium to be enjoyed for generations to come.

Go Vols!

Mike Hamilton
Director of Athletics

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How will the renovations be paid for?
The master plan was created in a phased approach. Each phase is independent so we can ensure that funding is available for each phase before we begin it.

One key goal of the master plan was to find a way to fund the renovations without financially impacting all Tennessee fans. Several specific revenue streams have been designated to fund the future of Neyland Stadium and the continuance of Tennessee's prominence on the national stage.

The addition of club seating will be the primary funding source for the renovations, providing more than $34.1 million up front plus an additional annual revenue of $3 million towards the estimated $107 million in renovations through club seat gifts, annual donations and fees for those seats. Other funding sources will include the additional contributions from the 2004 sideline seating policy change along with other philanthropic gifts.

2. Will ticket prices increase?
We do not have plans to increase ticket prices for Neyland Stadium renovations. Future ticket price increases in the immediate future will be tied to operational needs.

3. How did UTAD decide what renovations to make?
We wanted a master plan that would prepare Neyland Stadium for the next 75 years while maintaining the collegiate integrity of the stadium and recognizing the heritage of Tennessee football in a fiscally responsible manner. Before beginning the master plan, we visited six stadiums across the country which are similar in age to Neyland. We also received feedback from more than 3,000 fans through an online survey. When completed, every fan will benefit in better concourses, restrooms and concessions.

4. Why are the renovations needed?
In order for Neyland Stadium to continue to be a viable structure, renovations to electrical and plumbing must be made. There are also several areas of the stadium that are no longer ADA compliant and need to be addressed. Renovations to bathrooms and concourse space are included to enhance all fans' experience at Neyland Stadium.

5. Would it be cheaper to build a new stadium?
No. It would cost an estimated $400-600 million to build a stadium the size of Neyland Stadium.

6. What will happen to ticket holders in the areas where club seats are being added?
The plan calls for club seats in two areas - along the east sideline underneath the skybox in sections AA to FF and in the lower level of the south end zone from sections G to Q.

The seats affected on the east sideline are primarily held for visitor allotments and some student seating. The south end zone club seats will not begin construction until funding is available and several campus master planning logistics are addressed, which gives us several years to work with those affected to re-assign them. Season ticket holders affected will have the opportunity to move to other seats in the stadium.

7. Why does the master plan call for the removal of ramps at Gate 10 and along Phillip Fulmer Way?
The current ramps are not ADA compliant and must be replaced. In order to rebuild Gate 10 at the correct size, the ramp would have to be extended into the street at Phillip Fulmer Way. To address safety concerns, the non-ADA compliant ramps have been removed and four stair towers with a total of eight elevators in the south end of the stadium have been added to move fans in and out more efficiently. This provides new elevator access to the south area of the stadium.

In the new south end zone, the majority of fans will enter on street level, thus not having to use the Gate 10 ramp. For fans going to the upper deck, the stair towers will reduce the travel distance. Access to upper deck would require travel distance of 1,550 feet on a ramp versus 275 feet on stairs. In addition, the stair towers enable Neyland Stadium to meet "life safety" code to allow our fans to exit the stadium quicker.

8. If capacity is reduced, will anyone lose their opportunity to buy season tickets?
No. Approximately 1,200-1,800 seats turn over every year. Rather than assigning those seats to new donors, we will use them to re-assign season ticket holders affected by the change.

9. What will the new capacity be?
Once the project is completed the stadium capacity will be over 101,000.

10. Why isn't UTAD increasing the size of seats throughout the stadium?
One of the goals of the master plan was to renovate the stadium while keeping capacity over 100,000 to allow a maximum number of fans the opportunity to enjoy UT football. By altering the width of the seats, we would greatly reduce capacity.

11. Will there be a tribute to General Neyland or former teams at the stadium?
There are currently plans for a "Legend's Plaza" which will feature a statue in the new Gate 10 entry plaza.

12. How long will it take to complete the project?
The master plan was created in a phased approach. Each phase is independent so we can ensure that funding is available for each phase before we begin it. Our plan is for the renovations to be completed in five phases beginning after the 2005 season during the off-seasons to alleviate inconveniences on fans. We anticipate the renovations taking approximately eight to 12 years to complete provided funding is available.

13. Will any public funds be used for the project?
There are no plans to use public funds for the project. One key goal of the master plan was to find a way to fund the renovations without financially impacting all Tennessee fans.

14. How does this project compare to other stadium renovations across the country?
We visited six newly-renovated stadiums comparable in age to Neyland Stadium. The cost for renovations ranged from $70 million at Purdue University to $225 million at Ohio State. Purdue repaired and replaced old concrete, enlarged concourses, and added restrooms and concessions. Ohio State renovated restrooms and concessions, enlarged concourses, added a video screen and added suites.

15. Will UTAD add another jumbotron?
Not at this time due to cost. As we prioritize plans for Neyland, our goals center on renovations like concourse expansion, restrooms, concessions and other fan amenities. A jumbotron on the north end would also require a significant adjustment to the roof.

16. Are any changes being made to make it easier on elderly fans to get in and out of the stadium?
Yes. The enlarged concourse spaces and the addition of elevators on the south end of the stadium should make it easier for all fans to navigate the stadium.

17. Will there be additional changes to the grandfathered ticket policy to pay for this?
We do not anticipate additional changes to the grandfathered ticket policy at this time. The athletic department is diligently working to contain costs; however, the cost of scholarships and operating a 20 sport program continues to rise each year.

In spring 2004 we made a change in the grandfathered sideline season tickets. Effective with the 2004 football season, individuals with sideline grandfathered season tickets could retain a maximum of two (2) non-donation based (grandfathered) sideline seats. Beginning with the 2006 season, all seating currently classified as "grandfathered" on the east and west sidelines will require a minimum annual donation. Sideline grandfathered ticket holders who do not wish to make annual contributions to retain their previous sideline location may choose to transfer their grandfathered "status" to available seating in the endzones. Funds from this change will be used towards renovations to Neyland Stadium.



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