Tennessee completes Neyland Stadium renovation study
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee completed a feasibility study for a renovation of Neyland Stadium, home of the Volunteers' football team.
On Tuesday, school officials unveiled plans for the second and third phase of the project, which may include concourse expansions, meeting rooms and two new videoboards.
Last week, Tennessee's Board of Trustees approved a $106 million proposal for the first phase of renovations, though it still must go before the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and will require legislative approval.
The total cost of the entire renovation remains uncertain, but associate athletic director Chris Fuller said they're ''approaching the project with the underlying assumption that it will be privately funded.''
One of the recommendations in the first phase of the renovation involves shifting a back wall to create more space between the playing surface and any physical boundaries as a safety measure. Other potential renovations include expanding the main thoroughfare of the south concourse, improving concessions and adding rest rooms.
The school is aiming to have the first phase completed for the 2019 season. That phase will be financed by donations and the athletic department's operating revenues.
Potential additions in the second phase of the renovation include more concourse expansions, ledge seating, suites, a halftime meeting room, a room for recruits and a lounge for former players. Plans for the third phase include two new videoboards and a WiFi system to improve connectivity.
A target date for the second and third phases hasn't been set. The approval process hasn't begun for either of those phases.
Neyland Stadium opened in 1921 and has a seating capacity of 102,455, making it the fifth-largest stadium among Football Bowl Subdivision programs. Its capacity had been up to 104,079 before getting reduced by various alterations in the last decade.
School officials said Neyland's capacity would remain at least 100,000 after this upcoming renovation, assuming it gets approved.
''We believe it's part of our identity as a program, that we are part of a small amount of schools that can make that claim,'' associate athletic director Brett Huebner said.
AP college website: collegefootball.ap.org