This forum was held in response to comments from the senators during the last faculty senate meeting regarding the renovations of Neyland Stadium.
To address this issue, the following panel was present for this forum: Phil Scheurer, Vice President of Operations, UT System, Mike Hamilton, Men's Athletic Director, Linda Davidson, Vice Chancellor for Development and Todd Diacon, Faculty Athletic Representative
Brief comments were made by each panel member:
Phil Scheurer --The Board of Trustees considered as an information item the renovations to Neyland Stadium. Prior to this, issues were brought up about Neyland Stadium that was built largely in the 20s. There are problems with accessibility in parts of the stadium, as well as other critical issues. A consultant was hired to create a blueprint for the stadium in a phase fashion from now through the next 20 years. This firm produced a draft blueprint that was presented to the Board of Trustees as an information item during the November meeting. If anyone is interested in reviewing the work of the consultant, a copy of the plan will be available in the library. The phase plan addresses the shortfalls of Neyland Stadium in 5 phases and all are independent of each other. The Board of Trustees brought forth as an action item Phase 1 that includes club seats, enhanced signage, and addresses concerns with concessions, accessibility and restrooms. This was approved by the Board. All phases are contingent on funds available. Funds for Phase 1 are primarily through 2 sources, club seat sales and signage that will include advertising space. As the project moves forward, there is a short time line. The plan has been approved by THEC as part of the entire budget and has been sent to the governor. It should then move to the general assembly. If approved at all levels, Phase 1 will start at the end of the 2005 football season and be ready for the start of the 2006 football season.
Monies get large in Phase 3-- $59 million. We do not know if this phase will be accomplished. A problem is moving academic departments currently housed in the stadium. There is a possibility of moving these departments to Strong Hall if those renovations are completed which are on the capital plan.
Mike Hamilton--For anyone who would like more details on the renovation plan, you can go to utsports.com and click on the icon for renovations. Prior to this plan, we asked fans what they expected to bring Neyland Stadium up to standards. We received 3000 responses which were passed along to the consultant. We are well aware that we need to be fiscally responsible as this proposal goes forward. Club seats will provide the initial funding for Phase 1. $10.3 million will come from initial gifts for the east side club seats with $million in annual revenue. $1 million will be funded through the LCD boards. $1.75 million will be provided through the grandfather ticket change. The next step is to move forward with development and start selling club seats. The permanent capacity of the stadium will drop to 101,000. There will be an extension of 3529 seats in the south end zone.
Linda Davidson--For clarification, more effort is put into funding for academics than athletics. The perception is the tail wagging the dog. Several times, we have used athletics to raise money for academics. For example, an individual who had a great potential for being a private donor and an avid UT fan was visited by Mike Hamilton and Phil Fulmer. This individual is now giving $1million. Allen Houston, a UT grad and NBA player gave a gift to academics, not athletics. He now supports the Wade Houston Scholar program. Athletics does provide, on the academic side, entree to donors who could not be approached except through athletics. The spirit of cooperation is alive and well and it is not an either/or for academics or athletics.
Todd Diacon--We often mis-identify the athletics department as a source of UT's problems. Just how tied together are academics and athletics fortunes? Is their a cause and effect? What happens to the $100 million if it doesn' t go to Neyland Stadium? I truly believe that excellence in academics does not have to come at the expense of athletics.
The panel members entertained questions from the audience.
- Neyland Stadium is not really a part of the master plan but the Performing Arts Center is. Doesn't it make sense to work with development on a package with Neyland Stadium to make both happen? Because the master plan was developed several years ago, the concerns with Neyland Stadium were not as apparent so it did not make the master plan. We are very interested in creating a Performing Arts Center and are working to make it happen.
- Where in the master plan do renovations of poor teaching environments stand?
All buildings are on the list and will be renovated as funding is available. It takes time.
- What is the history of funding for buildings that house academic offices in the stadium?
Not really sure, but probably the athletic department. It is my understanding that the land was purchased by General Neyland with athletic funds
- Would the capital campaign be hurt by the campaign for Neyland Stadium?
Last year we had 15,536 alumni donorsã10,440 gave to academics only, 3061 gave to athletics only and 2035 gave to both. Nearly 80% give to academic programs but the gifts are smaller
- Why couldn't the athletic department, through the new club seats, have a $30-50,000 buy- in with the remaining dollars going to academic programs? If the athletic department benefits the city of Knoxville, why doesn't the city go through with a bond issue to help raise money?
Athletics does have a significant impact on academic funding through tickets that are donated for academic fundraising. I do not believe it is the right political climate now and Knoxville is in dire straits right now so a bond issue may not be well received. We will look at individuals considering purchasing club seats to package something together and add the academic element.
- What part of the $16 million of Phase 1 will come from the capital campaign?
Anything coming in as a philanthropic gift will come through the capital campaign
- What priorities will be set for donors who want to give to academics and athletics?
All major "asks" are coordinated system wide. There are clearance procedures to approach donors Efforts are coordinated with academics and athletics before going to donors.
- How are fundraising priorities determined?
Each UT campus sets own priorities. Donors also drive what actually gets funded. There are continuing themes such as graduate student support, faculty support in form of chairs/professorships and buildings.
- Is there any interaction between UT Foundation and athletics and academics?
Athletics no, academics yes
Submitted by Ann Fairhurst, Chair, Faculty Senate Athletics Committee