Phil Fulmer is pumping the breaks on a massive construction project at Neyland Stadium in order to gather more information and ideas.
“To be very clear, I am super excited about the Neyland Stadium project going forward in the near future,” Fulmer, UT’s athletics director, said in a statement released by Tennessee.
The $340 million plan was first unveiled under former AD John Currie and it was approved about a year ago by the University of Tennessee board of trustees. The athletics committee of the trustees unanimously approved the cost of Phase I of the plan, which increased from $106 million to $180 million.
Construction was previously expected to begin the first phase this past summer, and be “substantially completed” by the 2020 season. The goal is to keep the 100,000 plus capacity of the stadium while improving the fan experience, eliminating Gate 10 ramps, expanded space on the south end and a reconstruction of the east side of the stadium.
Fulmer added that university officials and others involved simply need time to study all ideas related to the scope and design in order to maximize the fan experience and return on investment for the next 100 years.
“I have been here 10 months and have studied this major project with everyone concerned,” Fulmer added. “I think it is financially prudent and most responsible to delay the start of construction as we allow Audiology and Speech Pathology, currently in South Stadium Hall, to move in an orderly manner. It also allows us not to have additional expense and time pressures on both the university and athletics.”
Fulmer wasn’t the AD when plans for the project began, and he’s said he wants to tour other stadiums to gather as much information as possible. He’s even previously raised questions about making Neyland Stadium more than a “seven-time-a-year venue.”
“Tennessee has always been committed to having the top facilities in the country, and a review of the project allows for more time to ensure just that,” he said.