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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Staff, Wire Reports

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2018 07:20 PM

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New $340M Renovation Of Neyland Stadium To Impact Fans Says UT Athletic Director

University of Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie presented a Neyland Stadium renovation plan to the UT Trustee Athletics Committee on Thursday afternoon.

Currie said the project aims to give a grassroots fan experience in a fiscally responsible manner while maintaining a seating capacity goal of 100,000.

The project will cost a total of $340 million overall, but will be split into two phases. $180 million will be spent in the first phase, leaving $160 million for the second phase.

Currie called the investment "reasonable" at the committee meeting. He said the costs are "not out of line" compared to other college football stadium renovations.

The athletic director detailed how he thinks the renovations will impact Tennessee fans.

With the proposed plan, fans will have more space while cheering on the Vols. Currie said the project will increase space per fan from .5 sq. ft. to 3 sq. ft., meaning a 500 percent increase in space for fans in the south side of the stadium.

The project also aims to give the stadiums easier pathways, starting with the entrance and exits and widening of concourses.

Currie expressed hopes for a new kitchen and commissary along with the expansion of the Southeast Sky Garden, fan zone, and 15 new open-air suites.

Additionally, Currie said the plans call for adding a club on the field level. It would have enough room for 1,800 patrons, so fans with seats elsewhere within the stadium will have a space to congregate at field level. Currie said this space will give an additional stream of revenue, because it can be rented out to academic and community groups as well.

The renovations are expected to be funded through the centennial campaign, general revenue, earned operating revenue, partnerships, and budgeted debt service. Currie expects the project budget to be approved by Dec. 14.

If approved, phase one of the Neyland project will start in 2018 and is estimated to be complete by the 2020 football season.