UT to begin improvements on baseball stadium

Published 2:13 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2023

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Following overwhelmingly positive feedback on initial concept renderings released last summer, Tennessee Athletics is poised to move forward on a transformational renovation project at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees on Friday approved the renovation budget and work will commence this August.

Concurrent with the renovation planning, a series of stadium improvements were completed prior to the 2023 season to upgrade the student-athlete experience with an upgraded locker room and weight room along with a third level of porches for fans in the outfield.

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Through a multi-year construction process, Lindsey Nelson Stadium will transform into one of the premier college baseball venues in the country with world-class player development areas, multiple new gates, increased seating capacity to approximately 7,600 fans, wider concourses, more concession stands and restrooms and new luxurious premium-seating offerings.

“The interest and excitement surrounding our plans for the new-look Lindsey Nelson Stadium have been overwhelming,” Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White said. “After seeking additional input from Vol Nation through our fan surveys, it was apparent that we needed to think even bigger. But one thing we’ve been strategic about throughout this process is ensuring that the final product provides our team with the most unique and tangible homefield advantage in college baseball. Our fans and students always make their presence felt—and we want to maximize their impact on winning ballgames.”

The project’s guiding principle is to craft a first-class ballpark experience featuring innovative design solutions that inspire both fans and players to experience Tennessee baseball gamedays in new and exciting ways while simultaneously boosting the program’s ability to attract and retain elite student-athletes driven to succeed on and off the diamond.

“Since arriving in Knoxville, our staff, in combination with the university’s support, have earmarked player development as priority number one,” Vols head coach and two-time National Coach of the Year Tony Vitello said. “With these proposed renovations, our player development areas will go from some of the best in the country to a truly elite status. And this is only a portion of the extensive work that ultimately will result in a facility worthy of its fan base.

“The players we have been blessed to coach here have created a significant need for increased capacity. To date, our fans have been arguably the rowdiest in the country. Now, similar to our football and basketball facilities, we will have seating capacity that is more appropriate to house not just passion of our fans but the quantity, as well.”

Based on both fan feedback and construction market conditions, the project scope and budget has increased since last summer’s initial proposal. Multiple scope elements will ultimately assist in funding portions of the project’s growth.

Projected seating capacity has grown to over 6,100 permanent seats with the ability to provide standing room access for an additional 1,600 spectators. In addition to expanding traditional seating areas, a primary focus is to provide a diversity of seating products including new premium-seating options including an expanded MVP Room, a club level that seats close to 800 spectators, and multiple tiers of four-seat tabletop seating (4topps) overlooking third base.

Plans also call for expanded concourse space and an increase in concessions locations and restrooms to accommodate the additional foot traffic. The project will also provide upgrades to back of house and media areas.

The addition of an on-site kitchen also delivers the ability to significantly enhance concessions quality and variety for guests—venue-wide—throughout the season.

Finally, two entry gates—including one specifically for student use—will be added to facilitate both the expanded long-term capacity as well as fan ingress and egress during the project’s phased construction.

The project budget totals $95.8 million.

Since being named head coach of Tennessee’s baseball program, Vitello has led the Big Orange back to national prominence and has helped establish the Volunteers as an SEC and national power, leading the program to four NCAA Regionals (2019, 2021, 2022, 2023), three consecutive NCAA Super Regionals (2021, 2022, 2023) and the program’s sixth Men’s College World Series appearance (2023). It marked the second time in the last three seasons that Vitello has led the Vols to Omaha.

Tennessee baseball fans that are interested in supporting the stadium project and/or contributing to the program’s baseball excellence fund can visit the Tennessee Fund website or call (865) 974-1218 for information.