Tennessee adds south end zone video board upgrades to Neyland Stadium renovation plans
Tennessee intends to upgrade the south end zone video board at Neyland Stadium as part of its stadium renovation plans.
The plans were approved Thursday by the State Building Commission.
UT plans to update only the screen and technology, UT spokesperson Tom Satkowiak told Knox News. The upgrades will keep the south video board in line with a new north video board, which remains part of the long-standing plans for Neyland Stadium updates.
The project, which largely focuses on the south end zone, has spanned three Tennessee athletics directors. It started under John Currie, continued into Phillip Fulmer's tenure and now is under Danny White's attention.
The plans were approved by the UT Board of Trustees athletics committee in November 2017. Construction has yet to begin.
Phase I is expected to cost $180 million, while the total project is $340 million. The project is not slated use tuition revenue or tax revenue.
According to the agenda presented to the State Building Commission, the project "will provide renovations of the south ground and concourse levels and includes addressing life safety issues, improvements to the west bowl seating, and demolition of south hall, along with updating utilities."
It will add amenities including gates, matching videoboards and "speciality patron features."
White has talked extensively about upgrading and improving the Neyland Stadium game-day experience since he was hired in January 2021 following Fulmer's departure.
White has two projects in mind to start quickly at Neyland Stadium, which he said echo the type of upgrades and updates seen at modern facilities nationwide.
UT plans to create a premium experience on the lower west side of Neyland Stadium behind the Tennessee bench. The other plan has two parts — adding a north end zone video board and creating a standing room only area under the video board. White envisions the area being like a sports bar that is "aimed at a younger demographic."
Both projects are expected to be completed prior to the 2022 season. The two upgrades were already "in the queue," White said, and he expects both to be revenue-producing changes.
“There’s a lot of updating, which is financially a challenge," White said to Knox News in June. "But it also is an opportunity for us to take this iconic sports venue and put our own unique spin on it and bring together a modern experience while also protecting the storied history of Neyland Stadium.”
The "My All" campaign, which White launched in June, has funds committed toward upgrades at Neyland Stadium.
Currie, who was fired as UT AD in December 2017, called the investment "a reasonable and prudent one" when compared to a complete rebuild and the amount of money being invested in other stadiums around the country.
The original project vision featured a first phase focusing on the south side renovations and the second phase focusing on the east and northeast ends. The project was expected to start in summer 2018 and be substantially completed prior to the start of the 2021 season.
"This project is about the next 100 years," Currie said in 2017.
Fulmer, who took over as AD following Currie's ouster, took over the project. Fulmer announced in November 2018 that he was pumping the brakes on the project while the athletic department evaluated its design and scope.
Whether the south end zone renovation plans changed substantially under Fulmer's re-evaluation is unclear.
"Neyland Stadium is absolutely a treasure to all who love Tennessee, and we are trusted by alumni and our fans and administration to get it right for the next 100 years," Fulmer said in 2018.
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.