Neyland's new look

University of Tennessee fans will notice a new look at Neyland Stadium this fall – a look that features the technology of tomorrow while embracing the football program's illustrious past.

Speaking at Tuesday's Phil Fulmer media golf outing, athletics director Mike Hamilton said workers are busily wrapping up Phase 1 of a three-year $93-million renovation project.

The most significant difference fans will note is a huge LED display that Hamilton says is "going to be an impressive addition to our stadium this fall."

Two quarters of the display will recognize the program's 1951 and 1998 national championship seasons.

"We've never had in-stadium recognition of our national champions," Hamilton said, "and I think that's a pretty important thing."

The other two quarters will provide recognition of UT's retired numbers.

Unlike most LED signs, Hamilton said Neyland Stadium's high-tech display will have a "three-dimensional look on a background with back-lighting to it. I think it's going to be pretty impressive."

UT also has re-sprigged the playing surface at Shields-Watkins Field, providing new grass for the first time in a dozen years. In addition, upgrades at the indoor football complex are underway. New coaches' locker rooms are being installed, along with a players' lounge. All told, Phase 1 will cost $24 million.

Phase 2 begins as soon as the 2007 home season ends in November. It includes addition of a mezzanine level in the west concourse, new locker rooms, a new media center for interviews and a $4 million letterman's room that will rise 1½ stories and accommodate 300 to 350 people. Like Phase 1, Phase 2 will cost $24 million.

Phase 3, a $45-million project scheduled for undertaking between the 2008 and 2009 seasons, will include finishing all of the concourse work from the north end of the stadium through the west, plus upgrading the west sky boxes.


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