KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s Board of Trustees is expected to consider a potential $106 million renovation to Neyland Stadium on Friday. The project includes a back wall to meet NCAA standards on the minimum distance required between the playing surface and any physical boundaries. Other renovations include expanding the main thoroughfare of the south concourse, improving concessions and adding rest rooms.
Chris Cimino, Tennessee’s senior vice chancellor of finance and administration, said the project would be financed by a combination of donations and the athletic department’s operating revenues. An August 2019 target date has been set for the project’s completion. If the board approves the project, it next would go before the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and eventually would require legislative approval.
Neyland Stadium was first conceived in 1919. Col. W.S. Shields, president of Knoxville’s City National Bank and a University of Tennessee trustee, provided the initial capital to prepare and equip an athletic field. Thus, when the original stadium–the lower level of the current stadium’s West Stands–was completed in March 1921, it was called Shields-Watkins Field in honor of the donor and his wife, Alice Watkins-Shields.
In 1962, the stadium was renamed Neyland Stadium in honor of recently deceased athletic director and former coach General Robert Neyland. Neyland, the man credited with making the Vols a national football power, coached the team from 1926–1952, with two interruptions for military service. Shortly before his death, he spearheaded the stadium’s first major expansion. The plans were so far ahead of their time that they have been used in every expansion since then. The playing surface is still named Shields–Watkins Field.
The latest addition to the facility is the bricking of the field while removing the previous hedges, also added are the all-new home locker room, press room, and varsity room. In 2006 the East Club Seats were added, bringing capacity down to 105,650. In 2009, the university will add west club-level seats bringing capacity down to 102,455.