Extreme Makeover: Stadium Edition

Renovation of Neyland is fuel for football

A rendering of renovations of Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee.

Photo by UT Photo

A rendering of renovations of Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee.

Renovation of Neyland Stadium on Feb. 24, 2009 at the University of Tennessee.

Photo by UT Photo

Renovation of Neyland Stadium on Feb. 24, 2009 at the University of Tennessee.

A look at the work being done at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee is in the third phase of a more than $200 million renovation of the 87-year-old stadium.

F rom certain vantage points in Knoxville, Neyland Stadium looms large.

Since December, it's been even more noticeable thanks to a stories-tall crane towering over the stadium's west side.

It's a sign of the times, another chapter in the history that has known few breaks in additions or expansions since the first spade broke ground on Shields-Watkins field in 1919.

That huge crane is also a sign of resistance to the nation's current economic woes.

As the third of five phases in a more than $200 million renovation of the University of Tennessee's 87-year-old stadium approaches its midway point, Neyland Stadium remains a major landmark in college football, for fans across the state and, perhaps most importantly, on the athletic department's ledger.

Setting the Stage

Even though Neyland Stadium isn't visible from UT athletic director Mike Hamilton's window, its power is felt inside his Stokely Athletic Center office.

Since taking over for Doug Dickey in July 2003, Hamilton has overseen a major overhaul of Thompson-Boling Arena, the construction of Pratt Pavilion and upgrades to other athletic facilities on campus.

But a master plan for 102,038-seat Neyland Stadium was Hamilton's centerpiece. It's also something of an insurance policy.

For Tennessee's athletic department to remain successful - and one of a handful nationally that operate in the black - football has to be successful on the balance sheet. Directly or indirectly, football is responsible for about 85 percent of UT's overall athletic budget.

And if football is the engine that drives the train, as Hamilton often says, Neyland Stadium provides the fuel.

Last year, football ticket sales brought in more than $24 million, the single largest revenue source for the athletic department, and some $19 million more than men's basketball ticket sales.

But a stadium that accounts for more than 25 percent of the department's revenue and has endured more than 16 additions or expansions since opening in 1921 was beginning to show its age.

Fans saw tight concourses and long lines at concession stands and restrooms. Those with a more complete view of the stadium saw leaky pipes and power outages.

"We were never in danger of the stadium falling down or any crisis like that," executive associate athletic director John Currie said. "But you get to crises like that because you don't plan and don't manage and maintain as you go along. We have a pattern where we've done that through the years, we've planned and maintained and looked ahead."

Looking forward, a new stadium wasn't an option. Neither was allowing the current one to deteriorate.

So in November 2004, Hamilton outlined his plan for Neyland Stadium to the Board of Trustees' Finance and Administration Committee, which applauded his presentation.

"If you were in business," Jim Haslam, a university trustee from 1980-2006 and the founder of Pilot Corp., said at the time, "and you had something that was 83 years old - which was making 85 percent of the revenue for your company - and you didn't spend any money on it, they would get a new board of directors for that company."

Hanging Tough

The Board of Trustees approved the initial master plan one day after Hamilton's presentation in 2004. A few weeks later, the Vols faced Auburn in the SEC championship game and then drubbed Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.

Since then, it's been a wild ride, on the field and off.

In 2005, UT finished 5-6 and missed a bowl game for the first time since 1988. In 2007, the Vols were back in the SEC championship game. In 2008, the Vols finished 5-7 and Hamilton fired longtime coach Phillip Fulmer.

Outside Neyland Stadium, things were even worse.

A spike in construction costs upped the initial price tag for Phase I by some $8 million. By the time Phase II was completed last August, estimates for the total cost of all five phases had nearly doubled from $109.7 million to more than $200 million.

Then the economy turned sour, with a crash in the housing market sparking a deep recession.

"I kind of wonder what it would have been like sometimes if we'd had different circumstances," Hamilton said. "We've had two losing seasons, and some are saying it's the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."

Hamilton admits UT is "walking gingerly" because of the economy.

"There are still people who have resources, but everybody's being a little more cautious about where they're spending their money right now, justifiably so," he said.

Largely, though, fans have continued to write checks and buy tickets - all of which contribute to the renovation process.

Some are spending more than others.

Footing The Bill

In one form or another, every fan who attends a game helps with the renovation project in Neyland Stadium. With more than 710,000 fans passing through the turnstiles last year, Tennessee has a lot of benefactors.

"Every person is doing their part, and we appreciate every single one of them," Currie said.

Increasingly, however, a smaller portion of fans are underwriting the vast majority of the Neyland renovation.

According to UT's figures, more than $22 million of the funding for renovations has come from donors in the posh, 422-seat East Club section added in Phase I.

Ongoing construction in the first segment of Phase III includes a West Club section, which requires a one-time capital donation of either $70,000 or $100,000 for a pair of seats, depending on seat location and payable over five years.

To maintain those seats, fans must contribute $10,000 per year to the Volunteer Athletic Scholarship Fund, which covers tickets, parking and food.

The second sequence of Phase III also includes premium seats in the Tennessee Terrace, which requires a one-time $2,000 capital donation per seat, and then a $3,000-per-seat ticket/licensing fee every year thereafter.

"I think those people understand that they're not just buying a seat, they're providing real leadership for the university and for the program," Currie said. "They're making a gift. They're making a gift to help Neyland Stadium."

Premium seats in Neyland Stadium began in 1987 with the addition of suites on the west side, which are due an upgrade before the 2009 season. UT added suites on the east side in 2000.

The trend, known as market segmentation, offers fans who can afford it a much different gameday experience.

"Some people want to drive a Prius, and some people want to drive a Cadillac," Hamilton said. "I liken it to Baskin-Robbins, (31) flavors of ice cream. Different people want different flavors of ice cream."

Catering to those varying tastes is vital, and not just for those with the means to indulge them.

UT will not raise season ticket prices this year, although fans will pay more because the Vols play an additional home game this season.

But the changes to concourses, eventual aesthetic changes to the exterior of the stadium and other upgrades are enjoyed by plenty of fans who don't purchase a premium seat.

"We want Tennessee basketball, we want Tennessee football to be accessible to fans and citizens in our state and our community," Currie said. "When someone is willing to make a leadership gift for club seats, they're helping maintain that accessibility ... because they are assuming a larger percentage of the cost of those renovations, which have to happen."

Steady Demand

At the completion of Phase III, UT will have 844 club seats and 1,782 seats in the Tennessee Terrace to go along with about 118 suites leased to individuals and businesses.

Filling those seats - and finding the donors to occupy them - is vital to UT's renovation plan.

"That's the only reason we're able to do the renovation," Hamilton said.

So far, UT has identified $139 million in funds - either through donations or financing options - to cover the cost of the first three phases.

UT is renovating Neyland Stadium without any state or university dollars. The University of Washington, for example, is seeking $150 million in state funds for a proposed $250 million upgrade of Husky Stadium.

While the disparity between the athletics budget and potential university cutbacks that could include the loss of some 320 faculty members is a concern for some, faculty senate president John Nolt said there is widespread understanding that the athletic budget isn't taking funds away from the university.

"There is a worry that it might not always be that way," Nolt said. "If we don't have a winning football season for several years in a row and athletic receipts are down, then there's a worry about what if they don't make their budget and would we be held responsible for that debt in some way.

"But that's not an issue for us at the moment. It's not as if athletics is draining the campus. They're not."

The vast majority of dollars at UT have come through premium sections, like the East Club, which culled many of its initial patrons from a waiting list of nearly 100 fans seeking skyboxes.

However, many are new donors.

"Frankly, we've had a lot of new donors come to the table," Hamilton said. "That's one of the real interesting things for me. I was in development for 11 years here. I credit our development office for really going out and tilling that ground and finding those people. It's a credit to our donors who have bought into the concept of the Neyland Stadium legacy."

In spite of worsening economic conditions, West Club and Tennessee Terrace sales remain brisk.

According to Currie, about 70 percent of the West Club seats have been sold, and the Tennessee Terrace, still more than a year away from opening, has commitments for 600 seats. As of Nov. 1, Currie said, UT had commitments for only about 30 terrace seats.

Hamilton says the hiring of new coach Lane Kiffin has contributed to much of the renewed excitement in football. The athletic department even saw its donations rise more than 20 percent coming off a losing season in 2005, Currie said.

"Even in the face of a kind of overall specter economically, people are really excited about where we're going," Currie said. "We've been very, very fortunate that those fans and supporters are so passionate about it for the long term and understand the overall impact of Tennessee football on our whole community and our way of life around here."

Moving Forward

That huge crane will be gone by the start of football season, but Tennessee's renovation plans will keep right on going.

The second segment of Phase III is scheduled to begin shortly after the 2009 season ends, and the city of Knoxville has already granted an air rights easement for the Tennessee Terrace, which will extend over the sidewalk on Phillip Fulmer Way.

That project, which includes a brick and wrought iron facade on the north and west side as well as a new entry plaza at Gate 21, will bring UT's renovation past the halfway point. Phases IV and V are unscheduled, although UT hopes to have the entire renovation complete sometime near 2020.

And by phasing the renovation, UT has tried to ensure that it won't be stuck with an unfinished project should conditions continue to worsen.

As it stands now, UT has already paid off $25 million of the first two phases, with the remaining $25 million or so being funded through five-year commercial loans and 20-year bonds.

"The fiscal planning process has been very appropriate in that regard," Currie said.

Response from fans has been good, too. Of course people always seem to be impressed by Neyland Stadium.

Hamilton found that out early on.

Driving through campus after church on a Sunday afternoon in 2003, he noticed two men peering through the gates at Neyland Stadium. Turns out, the two men were traveling south from Pennsylvania and wanted to get a look at UT's massive football stadium.

"I'll never forget," Hamilton says. "They were saying, 'We'd always heard about Neyland Stadium. We just wanted to see what it was like.' "

So Hamilton unlocked the gates and gave them the grand tour, waiting as they snapped pictures.

By preserving and improving Neyland Stadium, Hamilton wants to make sure that it remains UT's crown jewel for a long, long time.

"We're trying not to think just short term during the time I'm going to be AD ... but what's it going to look like for my kids and my grandkids?" Hamilton said. "That's what we're trying, take a more long-term approach to the reconstruction of the stadium."

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

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Comments » 43

easymoney writes:

First, Last, and Always a Vol Fan.....Go Vols!

vols4ever93 writes:

I'm glad they're upgrading Neyland. As long as Bama won't have a biger stadium, they are expanding theirs to about 100,000 thousand sets.

ZacharyUTK writes:

The front is going to look like a giant movie theater. Florida and Bama had better get ready for some horror flicks.

bluetick writes:

Yea nice article. I remember the first time I saw the inside of Neyland was when I jumped the gates when I was about 10 years old. My uncle was a student there at the time and he showed he how to get over. If the Athletic Director would have come by with the keys ...then maybe I wouldn't of had to to do that. :)

snowvol writes:

Love the plans and renderings...one thing I'll never understand about UT though: Every stadium in college football names everything. The skyboxes, the press box, seating areas, etc. BUT...when you go to historic stadiums - the entrances - you don't see every darn name for everything. Why UT feels the need to do this, I wish I knew. Having "Neyland Stadium" on the outside is enough. Place the names of the press box, the tower, etc. on the actual entrances to them.

You don't see this kind of stuff at Notre Dame Stadium, Ohio Stadium, Memorial Stadium (in Lincoln, NE). I think we've got the best of all...but we could stand with a little "less is more."

wyomingvol writes:

Renovation of Neyland is fuel for football..... By God....

dvhill100 writes:

Crown jewel is right. Incredible structure. I had the pleasure of running through the T one year, and the feeling is indescribable.

punkin writes:

This is running off the average fan. I'm going to lose my season tickets that are second generation(35 years) if I don't pay big bucks next year. The seats they are offering are crappy. I drive 150 miles to each game and my children's blood runs orange. I guess we will watch em' on the tube next year.

GerryOP writes:

181 -- Fear The Kiffin...

DougMIdkiff writes:

I am filled with disgust at the announcement the U-T Athletic Dept will spend $200 million on improvements for Neyland Stadium, coming on top of announcements in huge salary increases for the football and basketball coaches. This was another display of the tail (Big Orange sports) wagging the dog (U-T's main purpose-education).

Successive Roman emperors improved the Coliseum and used slaves as gladiators to entertain the Roman population. Are we very far removed from that? Are we now in so deep, with the commercial benefits from attracting huge crowds to the Knoxville games, by land, sea, and air, that U-T can never go back to being simply an educational institution? U-T football and basketball players, with possible exception of some of the "Lady VOLS", are not students. They are hired to entertain East Tennesseans, many of whom never went to college, or even graduated from high school, yet they fill Neyland Stadium on game days.

BigOrangeJeff writes:

in response to DougMIdkiff:

I am filled with disgust at the announcement the U-T Athletic Dept will spend $200 million on improvements for Neyland Stadium, coming on top of announcements in huge salary increases for the football and basketball coaches. This was another display of the tail (Big Orange sports) wagging the dog (U-T's main purpose-education).

Successive Roman emperors improved the Coliseum and used slaves as gladiators to entertain the Roman population. Are we very far removed from that? Are we now in so deep, with the commercial benefits from attracting huge crowds to the Knoxville games, by land, sea, and air, that U-T can never go back to being simply an educational institution? U-T football and basketball players, with possible exception of some of the "Lady VOLS", are not students. They are hired to entertain East Tennesseans, many of whom never went to college, or even graduated from high school, yet they fill Neyland Stadium on game days.

I fail to see how the stadium improvements are harming the university's mission as an educational institution. The university itself spends NO money at all on the athletic department. In fact, the AD donates $1,000,000 or more to the university almost every year.

Just my $.02,
BOJ

budd#207344 writes:

in response to DougMIdkiff:

I am filled with disgust at the announcement the U-T Athletic Dept will spend $200 million on improvements for Neyland Stadium, coming on top of announcements in huge salary increases for the football and basketball coaches. This was another display of the tail (Big Orange sports) wagging the dog (U-T's main purpose-education).

Successive Roman emperors improved the Coliseum and used slaves as gladiators to entertain the Roman population. Are we very far removed from that? Are we now in so deep, with the commercial benefits from attracting huge crowds to the Knoxville games, by land, sea, and air, that U-T can never go back to being simply an educational institution? U-T football and basketball players, with possible exception of some of the "Lady VOLS", are not students. They are hired to entertain East Tennesseans, many of whom never went to college, or even graduated from high school, yet they fill Neyland Stadium on game days.

Might I suggest that you help the University with the academic side of the budget by taking a reading comprehension course at UT. The president of the Facualty Senate is quoted as saying that anyone who pays attention realizes that the athletic budget takes NOTHING away from the academic side. You could then read the annual NCAA statistics that show that UT graduates their football players at the same rate as the GENERAL STUDENT BODY. And again read the NCAA statistics that show UT to be one of the better schools for overall graduation rates for all athletes in the SEC. Understand where you are. This is a state university in a poor state without an income tax. It aint Yale. And if I remember correctly the Romans didn't give the gladiators a free college education for their participation. I know what that costs because I have one.

bjrhodes01 writes:

Ohhhh! Sorry, DougMIdkiff, but...SNAP!

Well said, Budd.

FreedomRings writes:

I just read a story to my 4 year old, entitled "The Emperor's New Clothes" wherein a couple unscrupulous individuals sold the King a new wardrobe made from fabric that only the very smart and those worthy of their jobs could see... Of course no one wanted to admit they couldn't see the clothes, for fear of looking stupid or risk losing their jobs, so everyone proclaimed the beauty of the clothing. Everyone except one small child, who was too young to be educated & did not yet need a job, who said "The Emperor is naked!".

I feel like that small child, uneducated and jobless, who doesn’t understand a university spending hundreds of millions in upgrades on sports facilities and coaching staff changes, while they, day after day, announce the woes of budgetary cut-backs, lay-offs, salary and hiring freezes.

Through the winter they said they couldn’t even afford to heat the classrooms above 58 degrees!

Perhaps, during the worst economic conditions this country, state & university have endured since the Great Depression, excess revenue from ticket sales could provide support for academics for a year or two? I know college football is important, but isn’t providing a good atmosphere for learning important too? Really… which should a university place as a higher priority in tough times?

rockytopatl writes:

Hey N-S: How about a photo gallery of the changes for those of us who can't see the cranes or get Hamilton to give us a private tour?

budd#207344 writes:

in response to FreedomRings:

I just read a story to my 4 year old, entitled "The Emperor's New Clothes" wherein a couple unscrupulous individuals sold the King a new wardrobe made from fabric that only the very smart and those worthy of their jobs could see... Of course no one wanted to admit they couldn't see the clothes, for fear of looking stupid or risk losing their jobs, so everyone proclaimed the beauty of the clothing. Everyone except one small child, who was too young to be educated & did not yet need a job, who said "The Emperor is naked!".

I feel like that small child, uneducated and jobless, who doesn’t understand a university spending hundreds of millions in upgrades on sports facilities and coaching staff changes, while they, day after day, announce the woes of budgetary cut-backs, lay-offs, salary and hiring freezes.

Through the winter they said they couldn’t even afford to heat the classrooms above 58 degrees!

Perhaps, during the worst economic conditions this country, state & university have endured since the Great Depression, excess revenue from ticket sales could provide support for academics for a year or two? I know college football is important, but isn’t providing a good atmosphere for learning important too? Really… which should a university place as a higher priority in tough times?

Because quite simply that is what the people who give their money to UTAD want. But given the fact that UTAD does give money to the University every year when very few other athletic departments do and given the fact that the voters of the state do not see fit to install an income tax to help fund the education at all levels I do not think this is as bad as we see at other places or in society in general. Plus as the article states, football is the engine and it is better to have a profitable program than not and continue the donations to the academic side. Plus do any of you think about the hundreds of people who directly depend on UTAD for their wages and the thousands who do so indirectly? No. You would rather knock a successful enterprise than accept it for what it is and what it gives to Kville

ncvol17 writes:

Interesting comments one and all. The one advising donors to give to athletice only to be given over to academics reeks of false intentions. I amsure many sports donors (big money) also give to the unoversity. If I give to VASF I expect my money to go to VASF. If I give to the general fund I expect it to go to the university.

One last thought. It does have to be true that a domino effect will push out blue collar & avg white collar fans. The 3,000 seats pushed out cheaper seats whose donors will push out those who donate even less. Soon 1,000 family donation will probably only get you on a wait list..Still a lot of $$$ floating around as disposable income even in this depression.

arkyvol writes:

maybe they're right--the athletic budget takes away nothing from the academic budget. from the comments, its fairly obvious that the great majority of posters have never had anything to do with the academic side of the university. but i can't help but wonder what U.T.'s reputation as an institution of higher learning would be if its colleges enjoyed the same passionate support its athletic teams do.

FreedomRings writes:

sports donors... academic donors... whatever! The facilities are owned by (and exist) because of the University. Without the University of Tennessee there would be no UT athletics... You can't separate the two.

If the excess revenues from athletics can't be used to support academics, then athletics should to carry their own weight by paying rent to the landlord or consider vacating the premises, purchasing their own land and building their own facilities!

DougMIdkiff writes:

Right on, DavidjBrooks. You are absolutely correct. Those that continually point out that the athletic programs pay for themselves and, consequently, are divorced from the financial problems that currently beset U-T, are deluding themselves. As I point out in my original comment, the tail(the athletic programs) is wagging the dog(Education-U-T's core purpose). I agree with arkyvol, who said "wonder what U.T.'s reputation as an institution of higher learning would be if its colleges enjoyed the same passionate support its athletic teams do."

SEAL_9821 writes:

in response to DougMIdkiff:

I am filled with disgust at the announcement the U-T Athletic Dept will spend $200 million on improvements for Neyland Stadium, coming on top of announcements in huge salary increases for the football and basketball coaches. This was another display of the tail (Big Orange sports) wagging the dog (U-T's main purpose-education).

Successive Roman emperors improved the Coliseum and used slaves as gladiators to entertain the Roman population. Are we very far removed from that? Are we now in so deep, with the commercial benefits from attracting huge crowds to the Knoxville games, by land, sea, and air, that U-T can never go back to being simply an educational institution? U-T football and basketball players, with possible exception of some of the "Lady VOLS", are not students. They are hired to entertain East Tennesseans, many of whom never went to college, or even graduated from high school, yet they fill Neyland Stadium on game days.

I'm all for academics at UT. For that is the most important part of a student athletes time there. On the other hand, tell me when the last time there were 107,000 fans showed up to watch Gerald Jones or Lennon Creer take an Algebra or Anatomy exam. Face it. Tennessee is built around football just like Alabama, Florida and 90% of the other SEC schools.

budd#207344 writes:

in response to DougMIdkiff:

Right on, DavidjBrooks. You are absolutely correct. Those that continually point out that the athletic programs pay for themselves and, consequently, are divorced from the financial problems that currently beset U-T, are deluding themselves. As I point out in my original comment, the tail(the athletic programs) is wagging the dog(Education-U-T's core purpose). I agree with arkyvol, who said "wonder what U.T.'s reputation as an institution of higher learning would be if its colleges enjoyed the same passionate support its athletic teams do."

I am not deluding myself. I am pointing out the obvious. Do you think that the money that currently goes to the UTAD would automatically revert to the University if athletics were closed down? No it would go to cable tv, the Titans, the Braves,The Gap, or Dollywood. The people you need to influence are your worthless state legislators who doal out the money that could go to UT. But they would rather spend it on raising flags over the capitol for their constituents. If anyone is deluding themselves it is the thought that UTAD is the problem

FreedomRings writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm sure that's correct, I just don't think now is the time to brag about spending $200,000,000 on unnecessary expenditures. The stadium was likely to continue selling-out w/o having spent that money. I doubt the return on the new investment will be worth the money spent there, as opposed to allowing that excess sports revenue to go to academics in an effort to keep tuition down & keep enrollment up. Which should be a primary goal of any university. I realize sports facilities (or any building for that matter) needs maintenance. But it seems to me that too many people are concerned with having the biggest and/or best sports facilities, thinking that's what defines a university, but I say they've lost focus of the primary goal of an institution of higher learning.

Voluvr writes:

in response to snowvol:

Love the plans and renderings...one thing I'll never understand about UT though: Every stadium in college football names everything. The skyboxes, the press box, seating areas, etc. BUT...when you go to historic stadiums - the entrances - you don't see every darn name for everything. Why UT feels the need to do this, I wish I knew. Having "Neyland Stadium" on the outside is enough. Place the names of the press box, the tower, etc. on the actual entrances to them.

You don't see this kind of stuff at Notre Dame Stadium, Ohio Stadium, Memorial Stadium (in Lincoln, NE). I think we've got the best of all...but we could stand with a little "less is more."

I like everything about it. Shields and watkins gave them money to build the first field and bleachers. It's all about tradition and history. ND is a private institution and is handled differently. Ohio State, who cares. We have the best of everything. I wouldn't change a thing.

If you want to see more go to Vanderbilt...."that Regions bank field goal was brought to you by Kroger!"

Voluvr writes:

in response to FreedomRings:

I'm sure that's correct, I just don't think now is the time to brag about spending $200,000,000 on unnecessary expenditures. The stadium was likely to continue selling-out w/o having spent that money. I doubt the return on the new investment will be worth the money spent there, as opposed to allowing that excess sports revenue to go to academics in an effort to keep tuition down & keep enrollment up. Which should be a primary goal of any university. I realize sports facilities (or any building for that matter) needs maintenance. But it seems to me that too many people are concerned with having the biggest and/or best sports facilities, thinking that's what defines a university, but I say they've lost focus of the primary goal of an institution of higher learning.

Actually, it's a 10 yr return. The upgrades add significant revenue to the university. They don't spend a penny that will be a money maker. The University depends on that revenue. The Athletic dept. doesn't take on penny from the University. Actually, their focus is right on and the revenue keeps the primary goal going.

Besides, when you can get 106,000 people to come up every weekend to watch a guy do a math problem, then we'll pay the professors 5,000,000 a year.

There's more to it than you are realizing.

great2batnvol writes:

Hands down the best stadium in the country for some slobber knockin Tn. football!!!

RockyTop1 writes:

in response to gatorzz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just after you guys fix your sewer!

FreedomRings writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

The valid argument is: if the stadium ain't broke, don't fix it! The university is broke, so let's fix it instead!

FreedomRings writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You missed the point... if the university is broke, the stadium is worthless.

Kind of like having a heart attack patient, who also has a broken arm, rolling into the Emergency Room and the Doc elects to fix the broken arm prior to treating the heart attack!

Voluvr writes:

in response to DCdynasty:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Orange Envy. Thanks again for another confirmation we are on the right track!

Halls3 writes:

I just don't see the point to putting millions of dollars into a stadium in such bad times with the economy. Heck if UT were to suck it up this year again the stadium won't be filled & they'll probably lose some money on this. I would have waited a couple of years when the economy turned around to put this kind of money into Neyland. I mean at 87 years old, before long Hamilton, if he hasn't been fired if Kiffin were to flop, will want a new stadium anyways I'm sure. He's spent millions of dollars on every other athletic venues so why not just build a new stadium for your biggest money maker.

rocky_topper writes:

in response to ncvol17:

Interesting comments one and all. The one advising donors to give to athletice only to be given over to academics reeks of false intentions. I amsure many sports donors (big money) also give to the unoversity. If I give to VASF I expect my money to go to VASF. If I give to the general fund I expect it to go to the university.

One last thought. It does have to be true that a domino effect will push out blue collar & avg white collar fans. The 3,000 seats pushed out cheaper seats whose donors will push out those who donate even less. Soon 1,000 family donation will probably only get you on a wait list..Still a lot of $$$ floating around as disposable income even in this depression.

AMEN! I do NOT want my athletic donation going to help fund anyone's tuition! It is NOT my place to help pay for anyone's child an education. If you cannot afford college tuition, it isn't the athletic department's fault. Athletic donors want their monies to REMAIN with the athletic department and used within that department.

I would like to know how many of these parents who are crying so loudly have actually donated to academics at UT to help fund other parents' kid's tuition! My guess would be NONE OF THEM!

rocky_topper writes:

in response to DougMIdkiff:

I am filled with disgust at the announcement the U-T Athletic Dept will spend $200 million on improvements for Neyland Stadium, coming on top of announcements in huge salary increases for the football and basketball coaches. This was another display of the tail (Big Orange sports) wagging the dog (U-T's main purpose-education).

Successive Roman emperors improved the Coliseum and used slaves as gladiators to entertain the Roman population. Are we very far removed from that? Are we now in so deep, with the commercial benefits from attracting huge crowds to the Knoxville games, by land, sea, and air, that U-T can never go back to being simply an educational institution? U-T football and basketball players, with possible exception of some of the "Lady VOLS", are not students. They are hired to entertain East Tennesseans, many of whom never went to college, or even graduated from high school, yet they fill Neyland Stadium on game days.

Might I suggest that you donate to "ANY" academic department of your choice at UT. They will be more than happy to take your money and use it for academics! If enough of you donated, it would no doubt off-set some of the rising tuition costs!

Also, I can assure you that your donation would NOT be used on the athletic side whatsoever!

Jillelumpkins writes:

in response to easymoney:

First, Last, and Always a Vol Fan.....Go Vols!

You're an idiot, why don't you post something relevant to the subject? Instead you post some phooey about you being first. You're worthless.

BigVolFaninSC writes:

I believe that the drop in ticket sales last year had the most impact on the coaching change. The empty seats forced Hamilton not to be able to see if Fulmer could turn it around. I'm not bitter about it; in fact, I'm excited about the new staff and looking forward to the VOLS return to the top 10. But I do believe that business played a bigger role in the decision. Neyland stadium cannot afford to have empty seats! A fact/sign of the times and coaches, you better win now! GO VOLS!

utnoeler writes:

in response to DougMIdkiff:

I am filled with disgust at the announcement the U-T Athletic Dept will spend $200 million on improvements for Neyland Stadium, coming on top of announcements in huge salary increases for the football and basketball coaches. This was another display of the tail (Big Orange sports) wagging the dog (U-T's main purpose-education).

Successive Roman emperors improved the Coliseum and used slaves as gladiators to entertain the Roman population. Are we very far removed from that? Are we now in so deep, with the commercial benefits from attracting huge crowds to the Knoxville games, by land, sea, and air, that U-T can never go back to being simply an educational institution? U-T football and basketball players, with possible exception of some of the "Lady VOLS", are not students. They are hired to entertain East Tennesseans, many of whom never went to college, or even graduated from high school, yet they fill Neyland Stadium on game days.

i love that you made suah a nice attmept at sounding educated, and maybe you are. but youre still a dumb---. no matter what business youre inVOLved in, you have to spend money to make money. college is a business, and if you have deluded yourself into believing something different then youre dumber theni thought. and attacking the city of knoxville, and its residesnt y implying that they are all brealy high schol grads at best, is a nice inidcation of how much of a pric- you are. go away. leave this to the fans.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to DougMIdkiff:

I am filled with disgust at the announcement the U-T Athletic Dept will spend $200 million on improvements for Neyland Stadium, coming on top of announcements in huge salary increases for the football and basketball coaches. This was another display of the tail (Big Orange sports) wagging the dog (U-T's main purpose-education).

Successive Roman emperors improved the Coliseum and used slaves as gladiators to entertain the Roman population. Are we very far removed from that? Are we now in so deep, with the commercial benefits from attracting huge crowds to the Knoxville games, by land, sea, and air, that U-T can never go back to being simply an educational institution? U-T football and basketball players, with possible exception of some of the "Lady VOLS", are not students. They are hired to entertain East Tennesseans, many of whom never went to college, or even graduated from high school, yet they fill Neyland Stadium on game days.

Maybe you should READ the article again. I think you missed it!

sayhitomaggie writes:

Whoever is saying that the stadium doesn't need renovating perhaps needs to do some research. Fans will always come so the renovations are not entirely due to getting people there. If that were the case, they'd host bowl games and share the stadium witht other organizations. It is done for long time financial reasons and fan's safety and comfort. Sure it could have waited a year or two since there is an economic downturn at the moment, but they started this project two years ago when there wasn't as much of a crisis.

And if you need proof that the stadium is old and is in dire need of these renovations, the jumbotron (which is ALWAYS on and recieves alot of criticism from student groups since it is a waste of energy, money, and not helping "make orange green") is so old that they are afraid that if they turned it off, it may not turn on again and they would have to purchase a new one.

BigHouse_of_IceGulp writes:

Hope I'm still alive and kickin' when it's finally all done.

VOLFTBL writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Navalorange... I totally agree with your post. Because of the renovations and the opportunity to obtain East Club seats, my husbannd and I have made significant donations to not only the athletic department, but to the academic alumni fund as well. We live in Illinois and travel to Knoxville via car for each home game (600 miles each way). Our daughter is a current high school senior, so we have been busy looking at several college options for her. For those of you who might want to knock UT's academic reputation, please read the "Princeton Review's Best 366 Colleges". UTK is one of only 2 Tennessee Universities listed, the other being Vanderbilt. The University of Tennessee alums, faculty, fans, and student body have a lot to be proud of. Many people in the Midwest have commented that they wished the Big 10 took as much pride in their sporting facilities as the SEC seems to do. I went to a University of Illinois football game last season the weekend of UT's bye week and their football stadium is unsightly and uncomfortable and that was after a multi-million dollar renovation the year before. Be proud of Neyland Stadium and the beautiful part of the country you live in. Sing Rocky Top all day and night long and be proud to call yourself a Tennessee Vol! Go Big Orange!

WJustice writes:

The problem is that in many cases the athletic department and the academic unit of the university are in direct competition for funds. Both sides are often going after the same donors for the same money. John Q Alumni has $25,000 to donate. He can either give the money to the athletic department and get a parking spot for the games or the Business School and get a basket of fruit and a thank you note... I know which I would choose!

The two sides (athletic/academic) are basically like two separate corporations (that is too cynical, lets call them organizations) that share resources and branding. They share the campus (and the faculty, staff, campus police, etc) and the brand "UT" which they both can use to raise money. They each have their own fundraising organizations that operate independently, and like I said, often in direct competition with each other.

The athletic department definitely increases the value of the UT brand, a lot! They deserve a lot of money to keep that brand valuable. It is good for both sides. It would be bad news for the University if the athletic department decreased UT brand value (started losing! making people not want to donate, etc.) because they could not pay for the right coaches, or they didn't have good facilities, etc.

But, when the students can't have heated classrooms and the football players are getting mahogany lockers (not sure if that is true, just say), or a $200 million stadium renovation, there is something wrong with the way the two sides are splitting the resources. I think it is ridiculous to say that a $1 million gift from the athletic department to the academic unit covers the money the academic side loses in direct competition with the athletic department during fund raising. That is a token meant to give people that donate exclusively to the athletic department something to say when the fundraising question comes up. "John Q Alumni, why don't you support academics with your donation?" "I do, the athletic department give lots of money to academics."

WJustice writes:

There needs to be a more fair way to distribute the money to achieve the overall goals of the university. Because, after all, athletics/academics are NOT two competing corporations (even though they sometimes act like it), but parts of a vital institution for the state, with the purpose to best serve the educational and research needs of the residents of Tennessee.

For example, parking spaces that are normally reserved for Business School faculty during the week are sold on game days by the athletic department. Why can't the Business School sell (a portion of, let's be realistic) those parking spots on game days to it's alumni? And keep the money for the Business School? Why does the Business School only get to use the campus (that it helps maintain and pay for) at the least valuable times in terms on fundraising?

Things are they way they are today because of decisions made in the 1970's when athletics was not a multi-million dollar business, and academics did not want to support the football team! The football team had to scrap and find a way to pay for itself. Talk about a change of events! But, anyone that cares about the university as a whole, and is not just a football fan, should care about how this money gets spent.

Ralph_Crampton writes:

I hope Coach Kiffin can recruit like the top recruiter in Vol history...Doug Dickey...Dickey perhaps recruited a vast amount of recruits that lasted four years during Bill Battles" career as head coach. In fact in Battles' first year after Dickey left, the Vols came within a few downs of winning the National title...in fact some thought they were the best team at the end of the 70 season. It was thought that Dickey kicked himself for years for leaving that super material he had recruited. To this day not one person can explain his bailout from the Vols.

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