Univ. of Memphis hopes stadium renovation elevates athletics program

UM's justification of going the renovation route is it will be a transformational yet responsible investment that achieves their goalspopulous

The Univ. of Memphis and City of Memphis intend to spend $150-200M to upgrade Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, having "created a website with scaffold of information about the project, including some background on how they came to decide upgrades were the answer, what the project wants to accomplish, and what will happen next," according to Akers & Klyce of the MEMPHIS BUSINESS JOURNAL. They "didn't just send out the basics of the plan." The website said that the price tag is "based on projections from the school's master plan, but that total could change once designs are nailed down through a bidding process." It is expected to be comprised of "public and private investment, with the university's portion sourced from philanthropic organizations and premium seating revenues." The suitability of the formerly named Liberty Bowl as the "everlasting home of Tigers football" has been a "perennial topic in the local conversation for many, many years." There have been movements for "advocating for the construction of a new, smaller stadium directly on the U of M's campus, and there have been pushes to simply upgrade the existing stadium." The justification the school provides calls the renovation route a "transformational yet responsible investment that achieves our goals." The school worked with Populous and other consultants to "weigh a new stadium versus renovations, stacking up 'funding models" and taking a look at other stadium projects in other cities." Still to be determined: "Actual details. Like, what the stadium's capacity will be after the renovations are done -- though they do say they expect capacity to still top 50,000. And how many suites and premium seats will there be? And what will they look like?" (, 5/12).

GOLDEN TICKET? In Memphis, Mark Giannotto writes there was "no way" to "address the questions that loom largest over a project that may well determine the future of Memphis athletics more than any result on the field ever could." Giannotto: "Can they actually pull this off, and is this enough to be invited into a Power Five conference?" The answer to both, at first glance, is "hopefully." If only because Memphis "seems to be doing this stadium renovation the right way." This "isn't just a cosmetic facelift." This is "meaningful change" to the entire west side of the city's aging stadium. This is "sleek glass walls that will alter what the old place looks like from the outside." Memphis AD Laird Veatch said, "There's no guarantees. We know that. It's not as if you build it and we're in. What it does is it puts us in a position where we're truly competitive." It is "not a new stadium that wouldn't be done for a decade," this "can be done in time for when the next round of conference realignment begins churning." Giannotto: "But Memphis -- the city, the school and the people -- must show the Big 12 they can follow through on this" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 5/13).

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