Vanderbilt Announces Facility Upgrades

At a Tuesday morning press conference, officials from Vanderbilt University announced plans for multi-million dollar upgrades to the athletics facilities upgrades to be made over the next five years.

Vice Chancellor David Williams was joined by John Ingram, Chairman of the Athletics Committee for the Board of Trust, football head coach Bobby Johnson, men's basketball head coach Kevin Stallings, and women's basketball head coach Melanie Balcomb in the press conference. Baseball coach Tim Corbin was unable to attend because the baseball team is already in Birmingham preparing for the SEC Tournament, which begins on Thursday.

The construction and enhancements to the athletics facilities will take place in five phases over the next five years. According to Williams, there are two reasons for undertaking the upgrades in phases.

"First, this is going to be a self-funded operation," Williams said. He acknowledged the university's "very, very generous" support of the athletics programs and said that support would continue. "But this is a project that we actually have to raise the money for," he said. "We've already raised some portion of it, and we need time to raise the money."

Secondly, Williams said that even if the money were already in hand, trying to undertake all the renovations at once would impede the ongoing activities of the program. "They've been phased in such a way that they'll bring the least amount of interference with ongoing operations in particular around this area," he said.

In keeping with this philosophy, as soon as a season ends for one of the impacted sports, construction or renovation will begin immediately so that the facility will be ready before the beginning of the next season. Thus, renovations on the football stadium and in the Memorial Gym are already underway, while enhancements to Hawkins Field haven't yet begun.

The upgrades will take place in five phases.

Phase 1. Construction and renovations under the first phase are already underway.

The most obvious is the work on the outside of Dudley Field. Along Jess Neely Drive between Gates 2 and 3, a new facade is going up that will continue the brick style of Hawkins Field.

On the west side of the stadium, both interior and exterior signage is being added to the Stadium Press Box/Suite Tower.

In addition, the east concourse that runs between the football stands and the third base side of Hawkins Field is being enhanced in terms of beautification and in the addition of restrooms and concessions. In addition, synthetic surfaces are being installed at the John Rich Practice Facility and the Wedgewood Recreation Field.

Less obvious is the work in Memorial Gym. In the basement between the two tunnels where the teams enter the court, extensive renovation is already in progress. The entire space is being reorganized, which will provide the space for enlargement of both the men's and women's basketball locker rooms. In addition, as soon as the last basketball camp is over this summer, the floor in the main gym will be replaced. The current floor is built on concrete, and the new floor will have a sub-surface that will be more friendly to the knees and feet of the basketball players.

Finally, upgrades to Hawkins Field haven't yet begun. They will include the addition of permanent seats in left and right field, expanding the capacity to 3700. Also, some additional seats will be added along the first base line. Behind the left field fence, there will be a plaza that can be used for standing room, receptions, and for temporary seating when it's necessary. The scoreboard will be moved from center field over to left field corner near the foul line.

Phase II. The second phase of construction will dramatically change the entrance to the athletics area of campus.

On the northeast corner of Jess Neely Drive and Natchez Trace, Gate 2 will be completely rebuilt to carry on the brick motif to harmonize with the style of Hawkins Field. The area will also include a new ticket booth, and a plaza will be developed in front of the gate. The brickwork will be extended down the Natchez Trace side of the stadium, and in addition, Gate 3, next to the baseball field, will also be rebuilt with the brick motif.

On the southeast corner, a new athletics Hall of Fame addition to the McGugin Center will greet visitors to campus. The Hall of Fame addition will be three stories high. The Hall of Fame itself will be on the first floor. The second and third floors will allow the creation of additional meeting space, including a football meeting roomroom that's big enough for the entire football team and staff. The athletic training room will also be expanded and renovated.

Phase III. In the third phase of construction, work will continue in the McGugin Center. One target will be the academic support area. Renovations of the football coaches' offices, support staff officers, and coaches' locker rooms are also planned. In addition, upgrades to the football stadium will continue, with renovation of gates 1 and 4 on the north side of the stadium.

Phase IV. Phase IV will include more work in the McGugin Center, including renovation of the football locker rooms, equipment rooms and athletic training room. Also planned are new Olympic sports locker rooms and meeting rooms on the second floor. Also in the fourth phase, work will include construction of north end zone building and seating in the football stadium, but definitive plans for exactly what form they will take are not yet in place. New synthetic turf will also be installed in the football field.

Phase V. The main focus of the fifth phase is the Hendrix Room dining facility in the McGugin Center, as well as the renovation and/or addition of offices in suites in that part of the building.

All of the coaches in attendance expressed excitement over the upgrades being made in the athletics facilities. Coach Johnson summed it, up, "We're extremely excited," he said. "I think it's going to help our program a great deal. Hopefully it will turn in to some wins and things that will make our fans proud of our program. We're anxious to be able to use these new facilities and make our program better."

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Graphic renderings courtesy of Vanderbilt Media Relations.

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