Athletic facilities get a jump at UT

Indoor track among additions in works

A look at the inside of the planned indoor track at the University of Tennessee.

Photo by RENDERINGS BY STUDIO FOUR DESIGN

A look at the inside of the planned indoor track at the University of Tennessee.

This is an artist’s rendering of the planned volleyball and indoor track building at the University of Tennessee. More than $8 million has been raised for the project estimated to cost $25 million, but no completion date has been set.

Photo by RENDERINGS BY STUDIO FOUR DESIGN

This is an artist’s rendering of the planned volleyball and indoor track building at the University of Tennessee. More than $8 million has been raised for the project estimated to cost $25 million, but no completion date has been set.

* Football Training Center

Description: New training facility includes weight room, locker room, dining hall and hydro-training room.

Progress: Contract tentatively awarded; construction to begin early this month; completion fall 2012

Cost: $42 million

* Neyland-Thompson Complex Northeast Plaza

Description: A new entryway to highlight all UT sports

Stage: Design initiated, fundraising needed; no dates set

Cost: $200,000

* Neyland Stadium Phases II and III

Description: Brick facade and plaza on the southwest corner and additional luxury suites (Phase II) and southeast corner (Phase III)

Stage: Construction will begin December 2013 and end August 2014 for Phase II; dates not set for Phase III.

Cost: $22 million for Phase II; similar costs expected for Phase III

* Volleyball and Indoor Track

Description: Indoor track seating 5,000 spectators big enough to host NCAA championships, and indoor volleyball arena seating 2,500, big enough to host first and second rounds of NCAA tournament

Progress: Construction documents; more than $8 million in funding raised so far; no dates set

Cost: $25 million

* Lindsey Nelson Stadium

Description: Replace the press box and build 15 luxury suites

Progress: Design and fundraising phase; no dates set

Cost: $8.5 million

* Barksdale Stadium

Description: Two plans are in play depending on the fundraising capabilities. One plan is to construct six tennis courts and the other is for 12 courts. Both include new seating, concessions and bathrooms.

Progress: Design and fundraising phase; no dates set

Cost: $3 million for six-court plan; $7 million for 12-court plan

* Rowing

Description: Upgrade to the rowing boat house

Progress: Design phase

Cost: $350,000

* Thompson-Boling Arena

Description: Moving team store into arena to replace current store at Stokely Athletics Center and locker room upgrades

Progress: Design phase

Cost: $4 million

* Golf

Description: New clubhouse at the range and course built off Alcoa Highway close to the University of Tennessee Medical Center

Progress: Design phase

Cost: $3 million

Football players aren't the only athletes getting new digs on campus.

While construction is scheduled to start on the new University of Tennessee football training center in the coming weeks, improvements are on tap for nearly every sport, including baseball, volleyball, track, rowing, golf, tennis and basketball.

As the university examines its long-term master building plan across the campus, the athletics department is also making its list of priorities.

In the plans for the next decade are a track and volleyball arena, luxury suites in the Lindsey Nelson Stadium, a golf clubhouse, boathouse upgrades for the rowing team and renovated locker rooms in Thompson-Boling Arena.

How quickly the projects are built could depend heavily on coming up with money to handle the multimillion-dollar price tags.

Most of the projects are still in the design phase and staring down big fundraising goals, especially for sports with smaller donor pools than the traditional money magnets of football and basketball.

"It depends on the priorities of the department and the ability to fund the projects," athletic director Mike Hamilton said. "All of these we're funding either out of excess operating revenue or donor gifts for capital projects. If someone steps up and says 'I would like to fund this project,' it could move up the list."

The most active project is the football training project, which is projected to cost $42 million based on the construction bids that came in last week. The new dollar figure is about $6 million under the estimates made after changes to the plans last year and in line with other building projects around campus that have come in under projections because of the effects of a weaker economy on the construction industry.

After arriving on campus, head football coach Derek Dooley requested changes to the project, including making the weight room one story and rearranging the floor plan.

Though it caused months of delays and increased prices, the project is back on track and has been tentatively awarded to Blaine Construction Corporation.

Donors said they haven't been put off by delays and have faith in all the projects on the roster.

Hamilton "has set record after record in fundraising, and I felt like he was going to do what he said he was going to do and he was going to get projects done," said Dan Crockett, president and CEO of Franklin American Mortgage. Crockett declined to say how much he gave but called it a major donation toward the football training center project.

When the department began considering a new track and volleyball facility after being forced out of Stokely Athletics Center because of the crumbling conditions, Hamilton went directly to two donors who were never athletes at UT but are supporters of the programs. One donated $5 million and the other gave $3 million.

That allowed the department to sketch its sleek new renderings of what a new facility would look like, with its slanted roof and triangular shape,

Other projects, such as the baseball stadium, will be funded in part by the revenue generated from luxury suites. Initial surveys of program supporters returned about a dozen people who were interested in leasing a suite.

Louisiana State University is leasing suites in its new baseball stadium for $35,000 a season, and Arkansas leases its boxes for $25,000.

The next phase of the Neyland Stadium renovation also includes new suites as part of the financing plan. The department has not yet decided how much it will charge, but the suites will include an exterior seating area under coverage along with the hospitality box.

The construction won't begin until December 2012 in order to both give the campus community a break from the construction chaos and to give gifts donors have pledged a chance to catch up before beginning a new round of fundraising, Hamilton said.

The university also considers unique ways of honoring those who give a donation.

Joe Weller, former president and CEO of Nestle, made a pledge as a way to honor his brother, a Chattanooga police officer who gave Weller one of his kidneys a few years ago. Looking for a unique way to thank his brother, Weller arranged to have a gate named after him - the Don Weller Gate - and surprised him last year with the unveiling.

"It's the only gate named right now, but I think the idea was to use me as a guinea pig (to attract) other interested people," Weller said.

The school could also see returns by building some new facilities to meet standards required to host NCAA tournaments and meets.

The indoor track stadium would seat 5,000, large enough for the NCAA championships, and the volleyball arena would seat 2,500, enough for the first and second round of the NCAA tournament. The tennis courts, if a 12-court plan is approved, would also meet NCAA seating requirements for hosting tournaments.

Not only would it be an economic boost for the city and give UT athletes an edge by competing at home, it would also attract high school tournaments that would give recruits a chance to see the campus.

Megan Boehnke can be reached at 865-342-6432.

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Comments » 16

thevoice writes:

I'll fund one of the projects. My $10 donation is ready right now. Maybe that will get a port-a-jon for the boathouse workers for one week.

BillsBrother writes:

This is why we are stuck with Hamilton. The administration is more concerned with setting records in the fundraising department instead of on the athletic fields.

GinaLolaJupiter (Inactive) writes:

I'm so glad to hear there will finally be an indoor track. The women's track program has been successful in spite of not having an indoor facility for the indoor season and winter training. We should be able to attract more athletes if there's a good indoor track, and perhaps we could even host a few indoor meets.

Ichabod writes:

LSU and Ark get 25k and 35k for Luxury Suites for baseball? Hmmmm....Based on the play and related attendance at Lindsey Nelson, a hot dog, Coke, and popcorn would set you back more than the Suite. How about we concentrate on building TEAMS, rather than facilities ? I don't think that anyone could disagree that the state of UT Mens Athletics has never been worse than it is today, hence this 'feel good' piece about what they are going to build in ten years. I notice Blaine Contracting was given the football complex work, just as they were Neyland Stadium. I guess contractors from SW Mizz St, La Tech, or Western Carolina couldn't cut the mustard.

Jesus1Family2Career3Vols4 writes:

in response to jecusitnet:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

First let me say if any Mother is out there reading this blog- shame on You! Just kidding. Happy Mother's Day if you are! God Bless You for all You do for Your Family!

Lets all take a deep breath. Phillip has caused 99% of this football mess we are in now. Boy Genius caused us this NCAA mess (along with Bruce.) But it is what it is. Mike Hamilton is getting us ready to come back in football. Yes, Virginia, The Big Orange will be back in football! CDD will get us there! I know B'ball is going to be down this coming year. But CCM can recruit. He is bringing in high character guys. I do believe we can win with him. As for Baseball-Mike and Dr. Cheek are going to have to make a coaching change. Raleigh was a big winner at WNC up in Cullowee but not an SEC calibre coach. There are plenty of young, up and coming baseball coaches to choose from. Lets put trust in Mike and Dr. Cheek to choose the right man for the baseball job.

Yes, we need facilities to keep us competitive. Alabama, Florida, LSU, Georgia, Carolina are all building facilties. Why would we not be building as well?

How 'bout them Vols?

orangepeel writes:

in response to Jesus1Family2Career3Vols4:

First let me say if any Mother is out there reading this blog- shame on You! Just kidding. Happy Mother's Day if you are! God Bless You for all You do for Your Family!

Lets all take a deep breath. Phillip has caused 99% of this football mess we are in now. Boy Genius caused us this NCAA mess (along with Bruce.) But it is what it is. Mike Hamilton is getting us ready to come back in football. Yes, Virginia, The Big Orange will be back in football! CDD will get us there! I know B'ball is going to be down this coming year. But CCM can recruit. He is bringing in high character guys. I do believe we can win with him. As for Baseball-Mike and Dr. Cheek are going to have to make a coaching change. Raleigh was a big winner at WNC up in Cullowee but not an SEC calibre coach. There are plenty of young, up and coming baseball coaches to choose from. Lets put trust in Mike and Dr. Cheek to choose the right man for the baseball job.

Yes, we need facilities to keep us competitive. Alabama, Florida, LSU, Georgia, Carolina are all building facilties. Why would we not be building as well?

How 'bout them Vols?

mike Hamilton needs to be fired first. Period.

TKO writes:

Two thoughts:
1) Use Raleigh's salary to ump start the baseball stadium.
2) Give the ushers their hot dog and coke. FREEDOM!

brauhuff#295403 (Inactive) writes:

Anybody heard when they plan on tearing Stokely Athletics Center down? I am sure it won"t be long.

RespectYourElders writes:

Some people don't seem to have read the article. It says the donors approve of the plans, and that there are already a dozen or so who are interested in leasing the suites, even when a definite cost hasn't been given. Why is it so hard to understand that when donors of large funds want their dollars to be spent for something in particular like an indoor track for instance, their money has to be spent on the indoor track. Ask anyone who works with grants and/or contracts. They can't just spend money where they want to. They have to spend designated funds on areas the money is designated to fund. Besides, you can't buy athletic abilities, but if you build better facilities, more talented athletes will want to come to UT.

espender#273698 writes:

Wow, We've got great facilities and lousy coaches. A true recipe for success! Thanks Mike Hamilton for your fund raising ability. PS over here in Columbia, if we put an English racing saddle on a j*ck*ss, it's still a j*ck*ss!

LJS1984 writes:

in response to Jesus1Family2Career3Vols4:

First let me say if any Mother is out there reading this blog- shame on You! Just kidding. Happy Mother's Day if you are! God Bless You for all You do for Your Family!

Lets all take a deep breath. Phillip has caused 99% of this football mess we are in now. Boy Genius caused us this NCAA mess (along with Bruce.) But it is what it is. Mike Hamilton is getting us ready to come back in football. Yes, Virginia, The Big Orange will be back in football! CDD will get us there! I know B'ball is going to be down this coming year. But CCM can recruit. He is bringing in high character guys. I do believe we can win with him. As for Baseball-Mike and Dr. Cheek are going to have to make a coaching change. Raleigh was a big winner at WNC up in Cullowee but not an SEC calibre coach. There are plenty of young, up and coming baseball coaches to choose from. Lets put trust in Mike and Dr. Cheek to choose the right man for the baseball job.

Yes, we need facilities to keep us competitive. Alabama, Florida, LSU, Georgia, Carolina are all building facilties. Why would we not be building as well?

How 'bout them Vols?

Todd Raleigh was not a big winner at Western Carolina. His record when he came to Tennessee was 247 and 209. So he was a few games above .500. Including 30-26 the season before Tennessee hired him.

LJS1984 writes:

PS Tennessee can't fill up the regular seats at Lindsey Nelson during a decent year. Why are they considering suites?

stroker writes:

in response to Jesus1Family2Career3Vols4:

First let me say if any Mother is out there reading this blog- shame on You! Just kidding. Happy Mother's Day if you are! God Bless You for all You do for Your Family!

Lets all take a deep breath. Phillip has caused 99% of this football mess we are in now. Boy Genius caused us this NCAA mess (along with Bruce.) But it is what it is. Mike Hamilton is getting us ready to come back in football. Yes, Virginia, The Big Orange will be back in football! CDD will get us there! I know B'ball is going to be down this coming year. But CCM can recruit. He is bringing in high character guys. I do believe we can win with him. As for Baseball-Mike and Dr. Cheek are going to have to make a coaching change. Raleigh was a big winner at WNC up in Cullowee but not an SEC calibre coach. There are plenty of young, up and coming baseball coaches to choose from. Lets put trust in Mike and Dr. Cheek to choose the right man for the baseball job.

Yes, we need facilities to keep us competitive. Alabama, Florida, LSU, Georgia, Carolina are all building facilties. Why would we not be building as well?

How 'bout them Vols?

How do you say a-men.

Voluvr writes:

Wide Receiver U....that's all I'm saying.

voloffaith writes:

in response to espender#273698:

Wow, We've got great facilities and lousy coaches. A true recipe for success! Thanks Mike Hamilton for your fund raising ability. PS over here in Columbia, if we put an English racing saddle on a j*ck*ss, it's still a j*ck*ss!

Yeah I live in Cola area and that sounds like a "Stevie I Wonder Visor on my head" comment. You all see why Mike Hamilton is still AD? The cash flow or projected gifts are strong. I'll give him credit there. Met him at football game last year as he was coming out of elevator and he was polite and friendly as I acknowledged him first. His next hire,if he gets to,will be interesting for the players of the diamond. Money,money,money.....Used to be the old line that"love makes the world go round." No more in today's society. What ya dun fer me 2day?

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

These improvements sound all well and good as far as facilities are concerned.

As several have said, the various arenas will look even more impressive if people are actually sitting there.

Sort of like Kevin Costner said in "Field of dreams." In this case, "bring the teams and they will come."

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