Renovations to Neyland Stadium are on schedule for the opener against Western Kentucky on Sept. 5.
With Tennessee's season opener against Western Kentucky little more than a month away, renovations to Neyland Stadium remain on schedule, athletic director Mike Hamilton said even if it might not look that way when fans arrive for the Sept, 5 game.
"Everything is on schedule at the stadium," Hamilton said. "But we need to get this message out: The project will not look complete this year."
Phase III of the renovations is scheduled to take two years to complete. The first component of Phase III, which began in November, includes several structural improvements as well as the addition of club seats on the west side and upgrades to luxury suites and the press box.
The most visible change - at least from the outside - is cantilevered construction of the Tennessee Terrace. Those seats won't open until 2010, but the curved, more modern face to the stadium foreshadows sweeping exterior improvements that will take place between the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
"As you drive down Volunteer Boulevard and you see that massive structure with the glass and everything," Hamilton said, "one of the things you'll see on level five, six and seven, the glass is in place. But on level three, which is the part that extends the most out, it will be open with a chainlink fence on it. That's where the Tennessee Terrace is going to go. We'll actually have to go back in this season and complete the Tennessee Terrace and then the glass will go on the exterior."
It's not going to look complete. For what was supposed to be completed prior to the '09 season, we're absolutely on target and on schedule. They've done a tremendous job, but it's not going to be a complete project.
UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton
Hamilton also said spaces on either side of the west tower will be painted for the 2009 season before being bricked over before 2010.
"It's not going to look complete," Hamilton said. "For what was supposed to be completed prior to the '09 season, we're absolutely on target and on schedule. They've done a tremendous job, but it's not going to be a complete project."
The most sweeping changes will take place between this season and next.
The final Phase III renovation will add a brick and iron facade on the north and west exterior as well as the completion of the Tennessee Terrace, a statue of Gen. Robert Neyland, an entry plaza at Gate 21 and renovations to the northeast concourse.
The first sequence of Phase III is expected to cost $47 million, while the second sequence is budgeted for $35 million.
Phases IV and V, which focus on the south and east sides of the stadium, remain unscheduled, although Tennessee hopes to have all renovations finished around 2020.
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.